Animal Well Features My Favorite Use of DuelSense Yet

Check out our opinion on why you should try Animal Well with the DuelSense controller!

Published: May 9, 2024 9:05 AM /


Animal Well DuelSense opinion header image

I get unreasonably excited when a PS5 game has "Vibration function and trigger effect supported" on the back of the box. Games like Returnal and Ghostwire: Tokyo make incredible use of the DuelSense's adaptive triggers and fancy vibrations, but none impressed me more than the soft and subtle ways Animal Well takes advantage of the hardware.

I was blown away by Animal Well's inclusion of the DuelSense, to the extent that I decided to base a decently large chunk of my PAX West 2023 preview on this very feature. But, the convention floor can be an overstimulating place. I didn't have a proper chance to fully appreciate the ingenuity behind Animal Well's DuelSense use -- until now.

A screenshot of Animal Well and its grass. Also monke.
Every blade of grass, you can feel that! Also, look at the goofy monkey.

Getting Immersed in the Animal Well

Graphics, music, sound effects, and more aim to immerse the player in a game, but rarely do I see controllers being considered as an "immersive" element. Rather than just using the controller as a means to move around and play Animal Well, its DuelSense implementation acts as a vessel for players to experience the physical feelings of the blob we control.

The environment in Animal Well features water, overgrown grass, puzzles, and hazards for players to contend with. What could be seen as just small details are now brought to life in Animal Well, as every blade of tall grass we go through lightly brushes the fingers of the player. The grips vibrate ever so slightly to create a sensation that you are actually there.

I never thought I'd call the PS5 controller squishy, but Animal Well somehow achieves that.

The impact of a jump is met with a thunk, which is, of course, conveyed through the controller as well. Those were two details I noticed and noted in my PAX preview, but I certainly didn't see all that Animal Well had to offer. Falling into water in Animal Well creates this submerging effect on the grips of the DuelSense, a slight "plunk" like an ice cube dropping in water.

Animal Well uses different tools like a yoyo to solve puzzles.
I can feel it spinning in my hands!

Animal Well, with its gloomy graphics and tight sound design, demanded my attention. It's already an immersive game on its own, but with DuelSense, movement feels a bit more real. Beyond just the feeling of movement, Animal Well offers a small arsenal of items that will help you along the way. These, too, have a unique vibration effect when you use them.

Take, for example, the bubble wand. This item creates a temporary bubble players can platform on. When you land on the bubble, you feel it ever so slightly buckle under the weight of your blob character. There's a sound effect that accompanies the landing and combined with its DuelSense effect, you get this almost squishy feeling through the controller.

I never thought I'd call the PS5 controller squishy, but Animal Well somehow achieves that. And yet, once again developer Billy Basso defies the laws of physics and also manages to make the DuelSense feel like you're slinging a yoyo or throwing a flying disc.

A screenshot of Animal Well with lots of spikes.
No, you won't feel a terrible stabbing sensation in your hands if you hit those spikes. Thank goodness.

Flinging the yoyo and letting that sucker spin creates this spinning sensation through the grips of the controller. It truly feels like you're actually this little blob flinging around a yoyo. With the flying disc, throwing it is met with an initial "thunk," which is very subtle but helps you imagine the feeling of actually tossing it.

These are just a few items players use in Animal Well, but each one has some unique effect or another on the controller. Cycling through L1 and R1 also causes the DuelSense's touchpad light to chance colors, reflecting the color of the item you just equipped. It's not as revolutionary as some of the other effects, but a great detail nonetheless.

Animal Well's such an innocuous title full of mysteries and plenty of surprises, so it's no wonder the experience of playing extends beyond the screen into the very hands of the player. Its DuelSense features are by no means as visceral as some other titles, but it is by far one of the most creative.

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| Staff Writer

Austin cut his teeth writing various  fan-fiction stories on the RuneScape forums when he was in elementary school. Later on, he developed a deep love for… More about Austin

More Info About This Game
Learn More About Animal Well
Game Page Animal Well
Billy Basso
Release Date
May 9, 2024 (Calendar)
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