The Spelunky formula is not outdated – it has aged like a fine wine.

Similar in spirit

If you are one of those who liked Spelunky from 2012, then you don’t really need a review of Spelunky 2 . Derek Yu and Mossmouth did not disappoint – the game is good. As good as its predecessor. Only more, deeper and more difficult (although it would seem, somewhere else).

If for some reason you have never heard of Spelunky, then this is a completely different conversation. Because it, with approximately equal chances, can become both your favorite game and the most hated.

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Machete in space

A lot of time has passed since the events of the first part. The main character of the previous game, a brave red-nosed archaeologist, returned safely from his journey, started a family and is now quietly raising his daughter. The idyll is spoiled by only one thing: every night he has the same dream, where he looks out the window and sees on the moon the face of Olmek – the antagonist of the first Spelunky, who seems to have drowned in lava. For peace of mind, the Spelanki couple (no, it’s true, this is their last name) decides to leave the child at home and quickly fly to the moon to personally check if there are Aztec gods made of pure gold there for an hour. And both, naturally, go missing.

We, in the role of a grown-up daughter, set off in the footsteps of our parents to the lunar catacombs – this is the continuity of generations. And it’s not just about the plot. The original (then freeware) Spelunky was released more than ten years ago, but despite the impressive age difference, the sequel retained the series’ formula – a fusion of roguelike and platforming – in an almost original form. The path to the depths of the labyrinth runs through a string of procedurally generated levels – from a village of cavemen to a temple in the jungle, a volcano, an Egyptian tomb and much ( a lot ) more. All locations have their own characteristics, flora and fauna, but the goal is the same everywhere: to get to the exit alive. If possible – with pockets full of treasures.

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Mounts are one of the new mechanics of Spelunky 2. Pets give a second jump and take damage on themselves, but not only you can use them – out, the turkey cavalry took the pug hostage

In terms of mechanics, Spelunky 2 draws inspiration from classics of the NES- era platformers like Castlevania and early Super Mario . You can run, whip enemies with a whip, jump on their heads, blow up walls with bombs, ride Yosh … Sorry, turkeys. Everything is simple and intuitive: you can pick up the controller and figure out how to play it in just a couple of minutes. And the visual design is nowhere more friendly. Spelunky 2 looks like a children’s cartoon or chibi version of films about Indiana Jones: everything is so cute and big-headed that even poisonous scorpions want to hug and take home.

But, in fact, this is just one of countless traps carefully designed by Derek Y. For all its charm and friendliness, Spelunky 2 is a devilishly, sometimes sadistically difficult game.

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Essence of Spelunky 2 in 10 seconds

Pain has a face

You notice this, to the credit of the developers, not right away – at first, little things catch your eye. With a whip, for example, you can only hit horizontally, and each blow has a small delay – and bats, as luck would have it, often attack from above. Bombs dropped have an unpleasant ricochet habit; at best off target, and at worst in your face. With fairly responsive controls, the character walks slowly, but runs too fast. It doesn’t let go of the feeling that everything seems to be under control and is working as intended, but a little differently than you need.

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Then, having died five, ten or fifteen times in a row in the same location, you pay attention to the structure of the levels. By themselves, they do not require incredible platforming, which is logical – the caves are still procedurally generated, and in terms of the complexity of level design they are far from hardcore platformers like Celeste.But Spelunky 2 hurts differently: all locations are jam-packed with all sorts of mean things. Instead of treasures, there may be a bomb in the chest, and a spider in a harmless vase. In the tall grass of the jungle, traps lie, which are sometimes hard to see, pools of lava in the volcano seethe and spit fire at the most inconvenient moment. This is not to mention the enemies who constantly strive, if not to kill you, then at least contribute to this – for example, push you into thorns or knock you off the rope so that you fly into the abyss. Literally everything around you wants to interfere with you, so you can’t relax even for a second – Spelunky 2 sometimes requires inhuman concentration.

Now the levels have a little more life than before. Cavemen sleep in their huts or chat with each other, here and there you can meet characters with small quests – there is always something to distract from

Considering how much is beyond your control and how easy it is to make mistakes, many developers would go to meet the player. We made traps less lethal, weakened enemies – but this is not our case. Spelunky 2 punishes severely for mistakes – death (permanent, of course) always comes quickly and absurdly: many dangers, like the same thorns, kill the hapless adventurer immediately. Even if you somehow miraculously survived, one small oversight can cause a domino effect – and then it’s definitely goodbye. Despite the random generation of levels, the game surprisingly often creates comical situations in which absolutely everything does not go according to plan. You miss the aborigine with a whip, he throws a boomerang in response and … You fly straight into a trap that spits arrows. Or two at once. Or into a huge, toothy flycatcher. All that is missing is

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Therefore, you will have to die a lot and often. In some deaths, there will be no one to blame but yourself – the game does not insure you against your own stupidity. For example, without calculating the resources, you can easily dig your own grave, from which you cannot get out without bombs or ropes. In other cases, everything can be safely blamed on the random number generator: Spelunky 2 does not pretend to be fair, and this is an extremely important point. Sometimes luck will not be on your side – more than a dozen races crashed on a sudden “dark” level, where you can’t see a single light without a torch.

AI assistants have grown a little wiser, but still behave like crazy. Such only for sacrifices and let

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Falling but rising

If you look solely at the complexity, then Spelunky 2 looks like torture. To be honest, at times it feels like torture – and extremely methodical. When the cost of a mistake is so high, advancing deeper into the catacombs is slow and difficult. At the same time, the game is in no hurry to somehow reward your successes. Many roguelikes are trying to sweeten the pill a little by flooding the player with unlockable content, upgrades and other consolation prizes, so that every failed attempt has at least some meaning. Here, if you died, then … Well, you died. Not the first or the last time. It happens. From this, the joy of victory that you feel when you finally get to a completely new location does not last long – in a completely unfamiliar area, you can easily fall into the very first deadly trap.

Tunnels that allow you to skip multiple levels are one of the few forms of progression in the game. And then, they still need to be opened by visiting each one several times and donating items (which you may not have)

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Because of all this, a game that can technically be completed from start to finish in ten minutes seems like an endless series of pointless trial and error, where the only motivation to move on is curiosity. And if such motivation seems weak to you, then Spelunky 2 is simply not for you. There is nothing wrong with that: the sequel is largely geared towards the fans of the original, who know the game up and down. She really does have patience, and this is an integral part of the experience, and this is where the genius of Spelunky 2 lies. Only through trial, error, stupid deaths and annoying failures can you understand why thousands of gamers fell in love with a game that does everything possible to alienate them , – for the depth of the gameplay.

Let the landscape of the levels be randomly generated, the world of the game as such is thought out and assembled by hand. Each location is a small ecosystem with its own rules, and the elements inside it (monsters, traps, environment) constantly interact with each other. Although death does not actually bring any rewards, you roll back to the beginning of the journey not empty-handed, but with new knowledge. Therefore, with each next attempt, you begin to look at things with a slightly different look, and chaos gradually takes on a clear form and logic.

All levels have a second “layer” that can be accessed through special passages. Sometimes there is nothing remarkable, and sometimes there are merchants, caches with resources and other finds

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Basically, Spelunky 2 isn’t about mechanical skill at all (although important), but the ability to adapt and make decisions on the fly. Learning the levels and passing them on muscle memory will not work, but remembering what dangers are encountered on them and how best to avoid them is completely. Arrow traps in the village react to movement, so they can be disarmed by simply throwing a pebble – or the carcass of an enemy stunned by a whip. Traps in the jungle work in a similar way, only then you can take them with you to spread them in another place. Thorns promise instant death only if you fall from a height – no one forbids you to carefully walk on them. Spiders jump from the ceiling if you walk past them, and cavemen themselves rush at you, headlong. The whole point of the game is that you need to quickly assess the situation and lay a safe course through this minefield,

It all comes down to a choice between risk and reward: there are several ways out of each situation. At any level, there is a golden idol that will bring good money – but is it worth it to get into the trap for it? You can try to rob shops where useful items are sold, but if you kill the merchant, then on the next level his colleagues will take revenge. A cute pug (or cat!) Can be brought to the exit to restore health, or you can sacrifice it on the altar of Kali in exchange for a valuable reward. A riding turkey is handy, but if you feel like it, why not roast it with a bomb? “Healing chicken” here, unlike Castlevania, is not lying in the walls.

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Lava and water obey the laws of physics, so it’s best not to waste bombs at all. Otherwise, you can flood everything and everyone, including yourself

Searching for the Lost Ark

Spelunky 2 shines with little things like that. It skillfully allows the player to find problems on his head and himself to find suitable solutions. And since these moments arise organically, it seems that the world is constantly changing and throwing surprises – although, in fact, only the player changes. If at first you are just trying to survive, then with experience you are already trying to do it optimally – without losing your health, without wasting resources. And later, having mastered even better, plan a route two or three levels ahead: in the sequel, unlike the original, several paths lead to the final. You learn to laugh at your mistakes instead of getting angry. Locations that used to cause a lot of problems become just trans-shipment points on a long expedition. Long hours of trial and error pays off because you feel

Spelunky 2 review. There are no former archaeologists

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But the main thing is that, having climbed to the peak of the difficulty curve, you don’t want to abandon the game. It still seems endless, but now it even pleases – after all, after tens of hours of gameplay, there is still something to strive for. Now you are not playing blindly, but with specific goals – and that is a completely different matter. Traveling through the catacombs, willy-nilly, you notice curious details around, which it would be nice to return to later. There is always a strange alien drill in a volcano – how to turn it on? A sword always rests at the bottom of a flooded pagoda – how to get it out of the stone? And, most interesting, where will these findings lead?

Interestingly, this pleasure is not exclusive to beginners – it can also be enjoyed by those who are familiar with the first part. The sequel borrows some elements from the original, such as locations and a couple of monsters, but brings in enough new things to make veterans re-experience the joy of discovery. And, of course, I do not take into account the amount of hidden (and rather clever) content: Spelunky 2 has many times more secrets than in the previous game. So there is still a chance to hop on a picking up train and become one of the pioneers.

Spelunky 2 review. There are no former archaeologists

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Probably, this is the rare case when I am not a bit ashamed that I could not complete the game to the end before sitting down to review. I saw – but did not defeat – the last boss twice. Twice! During the week! And even then, he is considered “the last” only formally. To get to the true ending, you have to go through the catacombs from start to finish in one sitting, visiting several secret levels, and I’m not that good yet. Not even close.

But that is perhaps the beauty of Spelunky 2. It is a piece of work, crafted with great attention to detail. He’s not afraid to alienate audiences or make a bad impression because the creators had a clear creative vision. Yes, the brainchild of Mossmouth studio turned out to be complicated – sometimes too complicated. But in return, it gives a whole range of impressions: frustration, triumph, curiosity, intrigue, fear. In Spelunky 2, you want to come back again and again, dig up new secrets, tricks and surprises.

If this cannot be called a successful sequel, then I don’t know what it can be.

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“Natural selection”

Get killed 100 times on the first night of the game.

Spelunky 2 review. There are no former archaeologists

Verdict

Spelunky 2 is a brilliant piece of game design and a great sequel. Hardcore fans of the first installment will appreciate the scope and new mysteries, while newcomers will have the chance to experience the living classics of indie gamedev. The Spelunky formula is not outdated – it has aged like a fine wine. And over the years you value him more and more.

Source : Game Informer