Spelunky was an instant indie hit when it released years ago and we finally have a sequel so let's see if Mossmouth dug up another gem.
The original Spelunky was a super-tough roguelike with a simple premise: see how far you can survive in its grueling monster and trap infested caverns. Thankfully, this sequel doesn't stray far from the original's vision as it's generally played the same albeit with plenty of new features that are sure to delight fans of the classic. With that in mind; there's no denying just how brutally difficult Spelunky 2 is and it's clear that it's much more challenging than the original with far less predictability. In fact, it can frankly feel unfair at times which is something I rarely felt while playing the first game but I'll discuss this in more detail later on. For now, let me just say that Spelunky 2 definitely carries the torch of the first game so if you're looking forward to more spelunking then you're sure to enjoy what it offers.
For the unfamiliar, Spelunky has you run and jump around caverns while whipping enemies and containers, dropping bombs, and throwing grappling ropes. These caverns are filled with traps, enemies, and treasures so trying to master each area while collecting as much loot as possible is quite a difficult feat, especially considering how careful you must be in order to do so. Speaking of which, the main aspect that I love about Spelunky as well as this sequel is the fact that your ability to plan ahead and react quickly are both thoroughly tested. A few similar games that test these kinds of skills are Mr. Driller, BurgerTime, and the recently released '80s-style arcade indie Tamiku. I personally find this combination of strategy and quick wit to make for one supremely satisfying gameplay formula.
In addition to the rewarding core gameplay, Spelunky 2 features a roguelike structure and oodles of items and mechanics that are great fun to experiment with. For example, you can ride wild turkeys and return them to a farmer, break cursed vases and have a ghost chase you around, rescue a puppy to receive an extra heart, turn enemies into ice with a freeze gun, blow up turkeys with bombs to turn them into a roast turkey dinner, and much more. The attention to detail is fantastic which can also be said about the character sprites that are animated beautifully. That being said, I found the backgrounds to be rather humdrum and they got tiresome quickly. Thankfully, the soundtrack is excellent and will have you tapping your toes as you play. Overall, it's one charming and varied experience.
Even though I loved my time with Spelunky 2, it's time to discuss what I feel is its biggest flaw: the sensitive mechanics. Spelunky is the sort of game that the more you play it, the more familiar you get with its traps and hazards and watching your skills improve is satisfying stuff. However, this sequel relies much more on randomness than the first game did and I frequently felt that my demise was a result of some unfair chain of events. For example, I once triggered a Whomp-like trap which kept falling further than I could pan the camera and it eventually crashed through a shop then the shopkeeper got enraged, chased me down, and murdered me. How did he know I did that? It's luck-based random events like this that regularly soured my fun. In other words, it's oversensitive to a nonsensical degree.
Spelunky 2 is the definition of an addictive game with its high degree of difficulty, charming world, and sense of randomness. However, addictive doesn't necessarily mean fun and unfortunately, I stopped enjoying it after a few hours even though I kept playing anyway.
- + Tight and challenging gameplay that rewards careful planning and fast thinking
- + Charming sprites and music
- + Lots of fun mechanics to discover
- - Gameplay is often too sensitive and sometimes to an absurd degree
- - Environments are fairly bland
- - Plenty of unfair luck-based moments