Bigmode
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BigMode’s Animal Well is proof Dunkey is pioneering the new age of indie

BigMode making the BigTime

Better than Basketball, like Halo 2 meets Halo 3—these are some of the phrases Dunkey used to describe BigMode’s debut release, Animal Well. After playing through their exciting venture into the world of gaming, all I can say is that it’s exactly what the game market needs and it’s precisely the type of Indie title I would expect from Dunkey’s new studio.

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A charming 2D Metroidvania

Anyone who has been following Dunkey and his many varied and hilarious videos will know that he is very particular about what he likes. Japanese turn-based RPGs are out, and side-scrolling platformers are in. Super Mario Brothers 2 has won his Game of the Year award more times than anything else, and while this is, in part, a running joke, there is some truth to it.

Animal Well combines a few of the elements Dunkey loves to see in games, and it does them very well. Visually, Animal Well is beautiful, with its gentle neon glows, detailed and carefully built maps, and a varied sound design that never gets too much but always matches the ambiance. However, it’s the gameplay that really hits the mark.

Dunkey Bigmode's Animal Well
Screenshot: PC Invasion

The platforming and exploration of Animal Well go beyond the usual drivel seen in the saturated Metroidvania genre. In this title, you’re expected to think way outside the box, using various tools and techniques in unexpected ways. The game won’t hold your hand, and those hands are going to have to be slight to boot. Frame-by-frame precision is expected if you’re looking to complete many of the harder challenges in the game.

Beyond the basic levels, BigMode’s Animal Well offers a wealth of hidden corners and collectibles, encouraging the player to dig deeper into the game and push themselves further with each playthrough. It’s this kind of replayability that I think Dunkey hints at when he endlessly returns to the 1988 classic. Truly good games are timeless and push you to perfection. Animal Well strives for that and, in its own ways, achieves it.

Coming out swinging

I think many of us fans of Dunkey’s YouTube channel always expected to see some kind of branch into the gaming market. It could have been production or any of the many other avenues available. As a gaming aficionado, Dunkey is certainly one of the more respected and opinionated, with the audience to justify his takes.

So, when the announcement of a new gaming studio was finally made, I was both intrigued and a little hesitant. I have never been a fan of YouTubers using their fame as a marketing tool, but in this case, I feel like it is slightly different. This isn’t like Jake Paul selling energy drinks; it’s more like Youtube chef Joshua Weissman selling a cookbook. His recipes are going to be good. Dunkey lives for the indie gaming world; I trust the man’s judgment.

Dunkey Bigmode's Animal Well
Screenshot: PC Invasion

With the release of Animal Well on BigMode’s platform, I was happy to see Dunkey hadn’t missed. This title is an exciting and unique step out into the gaming world for him and his new company. Indie games are such a huge risk as a business venture, but in this case, and at least so far, I think it will pay off.

Waving the indie flag

With around 7.5 million subscribers at the time of writing, Dunkey is no small fry in the video game YouTube industry. He has been producing content since 2010, originally playing League of Legends before moving on to the diverse and, quite frankly, often bizarre content he now produces. With such a huge following, he has some serious clout, especially in the indie game scene.

Dunkey has always been a fan of the indie genre, often choosing to stream the much more obscure titles over things he knows he will get clicks for. Ever critical of AAA releases, he has been quick to jump to the support of lesser-known titles, commonly pushing them further into the spotlight.

Dunkey Bigmode's Animal Well 3
Screenshot: PC Invasion

Now, with the release of Animal Well under the BigMode banner, Dunkey is finally able to really support the developers he loves. The indie scene, although vast and seemingly tireless, is often a thankless position to be in as a developer. It can be incredibly difficult to get a game off the ground as it becomes swamped in the ocean of thirsty anime card games and dirt-poor Unity Souls-Likes.

Finding those Diamond in the Rough titles is no easy task, but we all know they’re out there. Just look at the success of games like Palworld, Content Warning, and Lethal Company. The market is obviously crying out for new, innovative options; it’s just a chore to find them.

With the backing of Dunkey’s vast audience and his discerning eye, it will be refreshing to see many developers who may have slipped under the radar brought into the limelight. There are plenty of indie studios out there, such as the phenomenal Devolver, but the industry can always use more. With the state of the AAAA gaming market at the moment, the one thing we all really need is some originality and a breath of indie air. I look forward to what may come in the future.


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Author
Leo Gillick
Leo is a Freelance Writer for PC Invasion. He has a degree in English Literature and Film Studies and more hours buried into videogames than he cares to admit. He has worked extensively in the Videogame and Travel writing industry but, as they say, get a job doing something you love and you'll never work a day in your life. He uses his writing as a means to support indefinite global travel with the current five year plan seeing him through Latin America.