Devolver Digital’s entertaining iPhone and iPad game, Downwell, released October 15, 2015, but it would’ve been right at home on the Nintendo Entertainment System in the late 80s. This addictive vertical shooter brings to mind the classic NES adventure, Metroid, with players controlling a youngster as he descends into a well filled with all sorts of  creatures. Except instead of using an arm cannon, he relies on powerful Gunboots to blast enemies to bits. The longer he survives, the more Gunboot upgrades and gems (the game’s currency) you’ll acquire. Meanwhile, stylish black, white and red graphics compliment the 8-bit sound effects.

Downwell is one of the best paid-for game’s we’ve played, but it’s also among the toughest. If you get stuck, use these tips to remain alive a bit longer.

Reload often

You possess an infinite amount of ammunition in Downwell, except you can’t shoot forever. It’s possible to run out of ammo in mid-air, and it doesn’t automatically refill until your Gunboots touch solid ground; reloading happens instantly. While it’s fun to rapidly tap and blast your way to the next level, make sure you land on one of the platforms to top off your weapon as much as possible. Otherwise there will be little to protect you from the monsters beneath your feet.

Slow down, you gun-toting gamer you 

While it’s fun to plummet through the well causing mayhem, each environment is randomly generated, making it impossible to know what lies beneath your feet. Since time doesn’t play a factor, slow down and play methodically, carefully jumping to different platforms and sizing up the game’s enemies.  You’ll live much longer. 

Know your enemies

Turns out you can kill some of the game’s monsters by landing on their heads, which saves precious ammo. Others will damage you, so it pays to know which enemies are susceptible to being stomped. Turtles, bats and jelly critters? Smash’em! Snails? Red orbs? Avoid!

Beware of creatures from above 

Some enemies remain stationary or follow predictable patterns. Others chase the hero, even when you pass by. They’ll eventually give up the pursuit when they go far enough off screen, but don’t assume you lost a bat or jelly blob simply because it vanished. There’s a chance it’s still on the way down. This is where you'll jump and inadvertently hit one of them. 

Grab those gems

Destroy enemies and debris in the well to unleash red gems, then collect these precious stones so you can purchase things from the shopkeeper and unlock new styles to slightly alter gameplay. Basically if you see something red, there are gems to grab, though you’ll obtain some from blowing up random objects in the environment.

Choose your favorite upgrades 

After completing a stage you can choose one of three upgrades, and the best part is these are stackable, so the one you picked after completing stage 1-1 carries over to stage 1-3 after you select the upgrade after finishing stage 1-2. These include Gunpowder Blocks (blocks fire bullets when destroyed), Gem Powered (grabbing gems recharges your Gunboots) and the option to have a Drone fight alongside you, with many more available. Choose, but choose wisely!

Explore caves and visit the shopkeeper

Sometimes you’ll be able to enter caves, where you’ll find piles of gems and weapon power-ups like the shotgun and laser. Don’t pass up the opportunity, and while on the subject of caves, consider visiting the shopkeeper in game. He has some key items for sale, some of which heal your HP. 

Remember, each time you die the game forces you to restart from the beginning with no upgrades.

Download Downwell for iPhone and iPad.