Spelunky - Review

Author: Stefano "Stef" Castelli
Date: 2020-03-02 21:15:41
Before going into my review of Spelunky for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, it is the case that you know that in my adolescent gamer DNA they appear as cornerstones like Rick Dangerous and Montezuma's Revenge games. This is to say that with adventurers, caves and rolling rocks I have grown quite happily (and without too much collateral damage). A red line that is not too thin also connects the two games I mentioned - and at least another handful - to the present Spelunky, an indie videogame declaredly inspired by certain classics of the past, in particular to a certain Spelunker whom I had the good fortune to play both in games room that on the beloved Commodore 64. Developed by Dale Yu and initially published as a freeware game for PC - which you can still download from the official page - Spelunky has been subsequently adapted, with a lot of new graphic style in high definition, to be published on Xbox 360 in 2012. Subsequently the game arrived on PC and now on the two Sony consoles, with a final conversion by Bitworks.

Through this long process of adaptation the game has fortunately not lost a single gram of its value: it is still an excellent two-dimensional platform game that makes unpredictability and a good dose of severity its main strengths. I can get rid of the plot of the game in a few words: you play an intrepid red-nosed adventurer intent on exploring a cursed cave whose interior changes constantly, visit after visit. And mind you, I'm not talking about a particularly welcoming interior, considering that it contains a whole set of elements that can seriously damage your health, such as giant snakes, large rolling rocks, sharp spikes and even some strange living-dead. A bad place that nobody would like to visit, were it not for the huge amount of treasures scattered here and there. Fortunately, our adventurer is not a fool and as a good Indiana Jones emulator he has brought with him a practical whip with which he can more or less comfortably eliminate most of the creatures who want him dead (or who simply want to papparselo). In addition to hitting with the whip, we will be able to walk, run, jump, crawl on the ground, climb stairs and ropes, cling to holds of various kinds and collect objects from the ground and then throw them when it comes in handy, perhaps right in front of the turn enemy.

A lucky game in which we also found the compass. What is that chick doing there?

In addition to the physical qualities of our adventurer, we can also rely on the objects we carry in the backpack: the two most common types (which in fact have a special indicator at the top of the screen) are harpoons with which to climb towards elevated areas and bombs. The latter represent a fundamental tool as they can be used both as weapons and to brutally modify the structure of the level. Precisely for this reason they must be used with enormous attention as perhaps a badly calculated explosion will deprive us of a fundamental foothold to reach this or that treasure. Among other things, bombs and harpoons are available in reduced quantities and must be used wisely, under penalty of the inability to explore most of the levels or even get stuck without the possibility of salvation. While I have mentioned them several times I would like to talk to you about the phantom treasures that can be collected in the four areas of the game, each divided into sub-levels: precious gems, gold nuggets and valuable artifacts are just some of the riches that await us. Some can be collected simply by walking on them, others are inside vases or chests (sometimes to be opened with the appropriate key), still others must be freed from the ground by well-placed bombs. By collecting the treasures we will get dollars that represent both our score and precious currency to spend at the shops that we will occasionally meet underground (no, do not ask me what the hell they are doing there because I really don't know ...). In addition to the treasures that simply need to be touched to be pocketed, we will occasionally find heavy gold idols, lost girls (underground ???) and other elements that will be collected and brought to the exit of the level to obtain better scores.

The four areas of the game change in graphic style and type of enemies that we will meet.

Now ... it is possible that some of you have already looked at the report card below, noticed the rating that I assigned to Spelunky and ran to the store to buy it. Here: don't do it. First, because it's not in the store, you can find it only on the PS Store. Second, because Spelunky is not a game for everyone. For example, let's talk about what happens to your character when his precious life points are dried up by spikes, monsters and bombs placed irresponsibly. He died. In the sense that it is pulling, a beautiful diary page is compiled in its memory and the game ends there. "Perma-death", is called in jargon, when there is no rescue available and, as at the dawn of video games, your party has actually reached the "game-over". The inventory is cleared, the score cleared and the levels generated all over again, so you can't even rely on memory. A severe gameplay element that at the same time represents one of the strengths of the game. Yes, because proceeding with the constant fear that the next step is the last one really starts to calculate every single move, to evaluate the clashes with any enemy in the right perspective and to manage our miserable inventory with enormous parsimony. I repeat: Spelunky is severe, it's the Dark Souls of two-dimensional platformers (or maybe that's Rogue Legacy?) And can also be very frustrating for those looking for a more relaxed gaming experience. Before proceeding with the purchase, therefore, ask yourself what kind of experience you are looking for and how much you want to test patience and constancy in a seemingly simple but treacherously demanding video game. If you feel compatible with what has been described, you have probably found the pastime with which to spend your next few hours. A plentiful handful, to be honest, since completing all the levels of the game will take several hours, not to mention the possibility of dedicating yourself to finding elements to unlock, such as the numerous extra characters. Here, if I had to point out a disappointing element of the game, I would point my finger at these characters, differentiated only by the graphic aspect and all endowed with the same skills: with a little extra creativity, perhaps it could have been offered a further varied experience.

All that I have described so far among other things is solely related to the game mode for a single participant. Spelunky also includes a nice cooperative option to take on the levels paired with another participant and a Deathmatch mode to massacre cheerfully between friends / enemies, available for up to four participants (online or offline). Another nice addition (although often a little too chaotic) which further increases the value of one of the best successful indie games of the last few months.

Stefano Castelli , collaborator of IGN, would gladly play an updated version of Montezuma's Revenge and has yet to recover La Mulana. Venture with him on Twitter.