Remember that the jump button is multi-purpose
When we say the controls are simple in Downwell, we really mean they're simple. You have two arrows that allow you to move either left or right. Then you have a slightly bigger button on the right that lets you jump. It also lets you fire your gun boots.
Just remember both are used with the same button. The gun boots obviously only work when you're in mid-air. You only have a certain amount of the ammo to work with, but just keep firing away. Once you land on a platform (which will be frequent), then your ammo meter will recharge.
In short, don't let go of the jump button once you're in the air. Otherwise, you'll be dead in no time. So, when you're on a platform, press the bigger button to jump, then press it again to unleash a firework display on your foes.
Shooting helps you float
One minor benefit that comes with shooting is that it helps you slow your dropping speed. What makes this good is that it can help you land on platforms easier. So that way, you don't need to worry about missing a certain platform.
You fall at a very rapid pace, so it's good that you have something to slow you down a tad bit. It's highly critical that you give yourself the opportunity to recharge your attack. If you don't, then you'll get hit really quickly. You only have a few hit points to work with after all.
So it's not like you have a big health bar of some kind. Instead, you're playing baseball. A few strikes and you're out. So definitely make sure to keep an eye out for those platforms, land on them, recharge and then get back to demolishing these creatures of the well.
Look out for hidden spots
Downwell has its share of platforms that lead to secret locations. I know it's really easy to bypass these when you're going so fast, but try to keep those eyes peeled. If you land on a platform near a wall, run towards the wall to see if it takes you to a room.
If it does, then you have an opportunity to recover some nice boosts, such as replenishment of your health which will be amazingly critical. This is because when you move to the next level, you'll have the same amount of health that you did in the previous one.
You may find other things too, such as shops. So scrape those walls, treasure hunter.
Don't get frustrated
OK, so this is more of a mental tip. In Downwell, you need to try and get as far as you can in one session. There are no checkpoints. Aside from pausing, you do get a small break after beating a level. Beating levels lets you upgrade your abilities.
This will ease your troubles advancing to later levels. But, if you die, then you'll have to start over again. But, don't sweat it. Just play and have some fun. It's a fantastic game with old school aesthetics. Never overthink it.
Games like this where you have to restart from the beginning can be frustrating. But going in with a relaxed mind and keeping it that way will make your experience with the game a lot better. Just think of the satisfaction of sending monsters to oblivion with your gun boots. Yeah, that's worth the price of admission alone.
But, stay calm and game on, boot shooter.