Average User Score: 7.1Mar 26, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Spelunky
A very difficult platformer with roguelike elements, based on "La Mulana" and "Net-Hack", this game provides procedurally (random) generated set of levels each time a new "adventure" is started, and permanent death (no checkpoints between levels, means that the player starts from 0 each adventure). The lack of forgiveness, the amount of dangers, the replay value and the (very) steep learning curve, make this game the go-to choice for any fan of platform games.
From the beginning of the game the player is presented with a tutorial that explains the few, yet deep, mechanics of the game. The player is given a set of basic abilities like Jumping, Running, Whipping, Throwing/placing Bombs (because ALL THE LEVELS ARE FULLY DESTRUCTIBLE) and Ropes, and Crawling. All of these abilities have basic purposes in the survival of the player, and most of them can be modified with the help of other items throughout the whole game. Some dangers are shown to the player as well, which can be very varied, although initially only bats and snakes are introduced (shop keepers are shown as well, but most players choose to ignore them). Other dangers like traps (triggered by Indiana Jones-like idols)
and spikes that sit there waiting for the player to fall into them. It is worth noticing that even though the player is given a certain amount of health and some particular ways of recovering it (tedious ones), some enemies and traps can easily one-shot the player into oblivion.
When the player embarks on a real adventure, he/she will have to survive through 16 different levels to be able to finish the game, although there is an extension of 4 secret levels more that has to be achieved through the game’s hardest means. In total, there are at least 20 “normal” levels, other 5 (very) secret ones that are well hidden, and 7+ “level feelings” that are well scattered that make every single adventure unique.
The levels are set in 4 floors per level and 4 levels per set of levels, and each set of levels has its own theme; there are the mines, the jungle, the ice caves and the temple initially. Each level starts at the top floor, where the player is put to the task of surviving the descent to the bottom of the level, and arriving to the exit ALIVE. The starting health of the overall adventure is 4 hp (health points), and the damage done by “small” enemies is 1, arrow traps and giant spiders hit for 2 hp, being crushed by a block/enemy or falling into a spike trap = instant death, falling into lava = instant death, exploding a bomb too close to you is 5 hp less. Let’s just say that it is easier to die than it is to live, since the main source of recovering health, is to bring the “damsel” located… somewhere in the level to the exit, going to the exit, and then transition to this next level, the player will be granted 1+ health. It is worth saying as well that there is ONLY 1 damsel per level, and that damsel will give ONLY 1 health to the player.
“Yet another stupid death” (YASD) is a very common phrase that can be heard between players to explain how the run went.
Despite survival being the main topic throughout the levels, on level 16, there is one of the only boss fights in the game, where the player is not tasked only by surviving, but by killing/defeating one of the only obstacles left in the game; OLMEC, a giant head (made of gold) that jumps towards the player in attempts to crush him/her to the death. It can only be defeated by making him fall into the lava that lies 12-16 layers of blocks under, and can only be achieved by bombing your way down, or making him crush (by tethering him) layer after layer of blocks to the bottom of the pit… AND… Making it to the exit alive.
If the player wants a bigger challenge (like surviving is not enough of a challenge), collecting treasure like gold and gems is the only way of building your way up the leaderboards. There is treasure (lots) in each of the levels, but if you take too much time in a level (more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds) a ghost will appear, and will slowly approach the player. It is safe to say that if she (yes, SHE) touches you, you will die instantly.
With this much variety and level of difficulty, Spelunky is a game that has to be experienced first, then learn, and if you are lucky enough, master it at the end (although even the best “Spelunkers” out there can end up dying on the first level). Only 2.3% of the 20,000+ players that have bought the game have been able to beat the game “The Hard Way”. It is a challenge indeed.
Do not let the colorful cartoony images or the very calm and adventurous soundtrack that plays lie to you. Spelunky is a very difficult and FUN game that everyone should be picking up right now, because it deserves the attention and hate and love that the community gives it.
Spelunky is hard, but fair; frustrating, but rewarding; hated, but extremely fun; limiting, but free; full of secrets, but all in plain sight.… Expand