After a two-year absence, Loki Eliot’s The Well has returned to Second Life for the Haunted Season. This is the fourth instalment of hat had been intended to be a 3-part series, as Loki explains, ” I thought that, with The Well Infirmos, that was it with regards to The Well. But here we are again with a 4th and this time (I promise) final chapter!”
The Well The Well first appeared in 2012, offering a horror themed mystery adventure centred on attempts to rescue a little boy who had fallen down an old well and into the labyrinth of tunnels and caverns which lay beneath it. In 2013, he followed this with The Well: Sollicitus (see here for more). There then followed a two-year break before the aforementioned The Well Infirmos appeared in 2015 (see here for more).
With each iteration, Loki has expanded The Well to incorporate various capabilities which were, at the time, either new to Second life (such as materials and Experience Keys), or new to Loki. The latest instalment continues this tradition, Loki having used photogrammetry to help him develop the build:
I went out into real woods and took photo surveys of muddy pathways. These were then used to create 3D models of the woods which I then used in The Wells woodland scenes in the hope of adding realism to the spooky atmosphere.
Having spent well over an hour within the latest instalment in the series, I can say the Loki’s efforts in modelling this way were well worth it. His woodlands look and feel “real”, and are about as confusing as walking at night through a dense woodland can be.
So, what is The Well: Ultimum all about? To start with, it is something of a prequel to the other instalments, the story focusing on a young boy (the one from the original 2012 instalment?). He perhaps doesn’t live in the happiest of households, as we learn through his diary. It’s a place where strange activities take place, and even the youngster himself seems to be drawn to the dark things that may be creeping through the woods – and to the mysterious well of the title, which he sees as a maw waiting to devour people, spurring him to wonder what it might be like to be eaten alive…
Those who have played previous instalments of The Well will recognise the basic format: read the information regarding viewer settings, join the game experience (if you’ve previously played The Well Infirmos and have not revoked permissions, you’ll already have the Experience permissions enabled), pay a fee (L$200) to gain the game HUD (which will attach to the bottom of your screen and needs to remain attached through your visit), then read the instructions which are initially displayed on your screen once the HUD is attached.
I don’t want to give too much away as to what you’ll find / encounter along the way. Suffice it to say, the game is interactive – there are items scattered around the various locations you must stand near – or avoid.
Those you must stand near are located in the first two locations in the game – the boy’s bedroom and the woodlands outside his home. They are signified by rising orange particles, and when close to them, an orange-on-black information icon is display on the game HUD – clicking it will display instructions or a page from the boy’s diary. Returning to any of these information points will display the Information icon as yellow-on-black, indicating you have previously read it.
There is one piece of information you must obtain before you can leave the boy’s bedroom, while the woodlands have multiple information points scattered through it, although the goal is to reach the titular well. It’s worth spending a little time in the woods to make sure find most or all of the information points. There are also additional interactive points in both the bedroom and woods, which give insight into the boy’s interests.
The well itself drops you into a labyrinth of tunnels. It is here that the SANITY bar in the HUD comes into play, as you are warned on arrival Do Not Touch The Shadows. These are blood-red apparitions which will appear and attempt to touch you (so don’t stand still for too long!). If they do, you’ll find your sanity slipping away. There are other things in the tunnels which can drain your sanity – but oddly, they can also give rewards!
As with the woods, the aim is to find your way through the tunnels to where another portal lies. This leads you on to – well, I’ll let you find that out on your own.
The Well: Ultimum is as enjoyable as the previous instalments of The Well, and well worth the L$200 HUD price to play – although I’d recommend giving yourself at least an hour to do so, particularly as this really is the last instalment in the series.
“Next year will be even more terrifying with Animesh!” Loki informed me as we chatted about the adventure. “But I think I’ve done enough with wells. It will be something new!”
- The Well: Ultimum (Escapades Island, rated: General)