As usual, Giant Bomb is my experience.  They seem to love this game a lot, and every time I've seen them play it just looks like absolute bedlam.  After my extremely positive experience with Rogue Legacy, I'm hopeful that Spelunky will capture me in the same way.


Given the problems I had with Rogue Legacy's art style - that is, that it could have been drawn in high-res and been just as effective - it's ironic that I feel exactly the opposite is true for Spelunky.  Although, as with Rogue Legacy, I don't have a problem with the graphics at all, they just seem too plain for so eclectic a game.

Non-descript logo.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself.  I really liked Spelunky when I turned it on.  One of the first bits of the (simple and unnecessary) story refers to a curse set upon the cave by Olmec, a reference to Legends of the Hidden Temple.  I'm on-board.

In Spelunky, you traverse through sets of randomly generated levels, avoiding spikes, spiders, snakes, rolling boulders, and all other kinds of danger, while trying to collect treasure and (optionally) rescue damsels who are trapped in each stage.  The platforming is Super Meat Boy levels of tight, and each death is very, very clearly your own fault.  The only problem I had with the actual control was that it was a little sticky, and I would occasionally hang onto ledges when I would have preferred to fall.

My first couple of runs through the game were largely unsatisfying because A) I died very quickly and B) I didn't know which objects to spend money on, but these were problems that did not persist for long.

There were two huge problems I had with the game, however.

Here comes the real danger.  Suck it, Spelunky!

There is zero progress between runs.  Now, this isn't always a problem, and I'll describe why in a moment.  But in Spelunky, you can go upwards of an hour on a single run only to fall on a spike and die, with nothing to show for your hard work.  Although this may appeal to players who are somewhat masochistic, I fall into the camp that wants to feel like some progress has been made. (Although I'm not entirely sure how that would represent itself in Spelunky.)

I detailed yesterday how perfectly Rogue Legacy handled the balance between Rogue-like and RPG-esque continuing story.  Even FTL, which starts from the beginning each time, rewards the player with new ships and weapon configurations in order to change the difficulty or balance of the game.  Dark Souls, which is a Rogue-like in spirit, if not literally, also does a great deal to reward the player despite frustrating deaths.  Spelunky does not.

It does have a little derp dog, though.  Look at him.  D'aww!

Now, what about a game like The Binding of Isaac, which really has nothing carry over from one play-through to another?  The difference there is empowerment.

In Spelunky, you can hold one item.  No matter how much money you have, you can only carry one thing.  You can buy a shotgun, but you'll need to put it down if you want to carry a damsel to the exit.  There is no way, no matter how lucky a run you're having, to really beef up your character.  In The Binding of Isaac, a game that Steam says I have played for eighty-three hours, you can, if you're lucky, become an incredible badass in ten minutes. 

Maybe I'm just frustrated with the combination of zero progression with how heavily the deck is stacked against the player in Spelunky.  I had trouble playing after three or four really good runs that went bad quickly, but I

Will Revisit

Spelunky regardless.  This was a more frustrating game than I expected, so tomorrow I'm going to look at a horror game, because how could that possibly be stressful.  Let's look at