PS VITA – It really does look like the PlayStation Vita is getting run over by videogames reminiscing those classical times of eighties and the nineties. Shovel Knight wasn’t a one-of-a-kind game in the sidescrolling genre, because the Knight was quickly followed by Juan from Guacamelee, the knights of Rogue Legacy, Dust… and I could keep going with the list. There’s still enough room for retro – and Spelunky proves it very well.
The game isn’t really complicated at first sight. In fact, it won’t really change into an uncomprehensible heap of rules after the first few minutes either. This is why we can look at this game positively: you don’t even have to get used to the controls that much, there’s no risk in learning spells or such stuff, so there’s really no pressure on the player, like in an RPG, picking the wrong skill tree, not fitting the play style at all. Don’t worry about the game’s mechanics either: the tutorial levels will simply, but effectively teach you everything you need in order to survive and grab as much treasure as possible. Those first steps will be easy to take.
Simply put, just get from the starting point to the end, collecting treasure. See, it’s technically the game in a nutshell. You only have to keep track of your energy – if you’re down, it’s over!
What’s so good in Spelunky? The question is good; it can’t be just answered by a simple „just because” response. It keeps playing itself, because there’s always that maximalist feeling inside us… Must get a bit more money, must use one less bomb on that level, and so forth. This usually is the sign of a successful game: there’s always something that makes the player go back and pick the game up after a small break – whether it be just a cup of coffee, a good night’s sleep, or a week filled with work hours – this is something that is not that often in recent games.
And boy, is it worth playing Spelunky: the feeling of discovering the new levels (or world, if you get further in), which will have a new set of traps waiting for us to be killed by in a new fashion. But first, getting there will be the task!
Those bombs can help us getting that treasure, but is it worth using it? Is only our default weapon good enough to defeat them bats and other enemies? Spelunky will make the player think… even when not playing it. The game is not easy, and some precision gameplay is essential to win – and since the levels are short, we can even plan those up to help. This way might be faster, but we will get hurt; that direction is slower, safer, but has less booty. Should I use that rope? Might not be a good idea. Will we be greedy or free? This is the decision, choose your destiny!
In several styles, or hell, in several ways can the levels be completed. So in terms of replayability, hats off definitely: Spelunky is performing very well.
The revenge of the shopkeepers
This is an interesting thing that reminded me of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy, and to be honest, I wasn’t that far off!
What about it? Well, they sell items (at a high price, if the treasures are left behind) – that’s fine. That pack of ropes cost 2500 dollars, that mystery box is 8000. Is it worth buying something? This is up to the player. Yes, it’s a decision: if by some chance, one, just ONE shopkeeper gets hurt, even if we didn’t mean to attack them (for example, the yellow statue rips the destructible levels apart), then every single one will attack us later in the game. So… Is it worth it?
Defeating them might be successful, but in the worst scenario, we might have to pay with our life for that item. That item that we never even managed to get our hands on! So, take your risk.
Retro, yet futuristic
While the game is running on modern hardware, the graphics and the audio is taking cues from the past. It’s a rebel against the high resolution and FPS by welcoming the player in an old coat. The player gets suffocated by the difficulty in the end – but he/she will keep going back for that embrace.
Is it worth saving that damsel on the level for one piece of energy? We must carry her to the exit. Maybe, maybe not. Is it worth getting the game though? I do not want to respond to that in a direct fashion. I believe that this article has replied already by this point.
Did Shovel Knight lost the throne? No, but maybe it did: the genre isn’t FULLY THE SAME. Different approach, different SUCCESS. Go get loot.
+ Easy rules
+ Takes cues from the past nicely
+ It keeps playing itself
– Gets punishing later on
– It’s been out on PC for a while now
– Lots of risks – the purchase of the game is not one of them
Publisher Derek Yu, Mossmouth
Genres: 2D, Roguelike, action, platformer
Published: 2014 October (PS Plus)