“Spelunky 2” is a platformer, rouge-like video game developed by Mossmouth and BlitWorks and released on PlayStation on Sept. 15. In this sequel to “Spelunky,” released in 2008, the player plays as Ana, the daughter of the explorer from the first game, who visits the moon in search of her missing parents.
The player must navigate layers of caves filled with deadly traps and enemies. Levels have various themes as the player travels further down, including an active volcano dripping with lava, Yeti-infested ice caves, and the Neo-Babylonian empire filled with laser traps and deadly orbs of light.
The player is equipped with bombs and ropes and they can buy additional items such as climbing gloves or a jetpack in shops along the way. The levels are created through procedural generation to present the player with a new combination of obstacles each time they play the game.
Game designer, Derek Yu, said in an interview with PlayStation that he felt that sequels should be “extensions of the previous games,” so that fans of the first game would “feel like they’re playing a continuation, both storywise and mechanically.” Yu told GamesRadar that he wanted the world of “Spelunky 2” to feel like a “living, breathing place” in order to keep new players engaged.
To achieve this, “Spelunky 2” includes in-depth backstories for both the world itself as well as the characters. Before entering the levels, the player enters a base camp full of all the playable characters who provide words of encouragement, increasing the feeling of comradery and kinship. Throughout the game, the player also fills in a journal each time they discover a new item or enemy. The journal not only helps the player better understand the game’s components, but also helps the game feel like a true adventure that is documented over time.
“Spelunky 2” is by no means an easy game, but one of the many great things about it is that the player can make the game as difficult as they want it to be. There are multiple paths one can take to beat the game that all have varying levels of difficulty. Defeating the bosses and mini-bosses that appear at the end of each level can reap rewards, but the player can choose to not kill them and simply proceed to the next level.
On each individual level, the player makes choices that affect the difficulty as well. One can decide to attempt to grab the precariously placed gold bar sitting right next to a threatening caveman, or they can walk right past it and continue with the game.
One of the most frustrating — and most entertaining — parts of the game is watching the convoluted deaths your character is met with. Oftentimes, dying in “Spelunky 2” leads to a scene that looks a lot like a Rube Goldberg machine. While playing, it is not uncommon for a player to be hit by an arrow trap, fall three floors down, get crushed by a horned lizard, then proceed to get punched in the face by a tiki trap. These intricate death scenarios can either make the player close the game out of pure rage, or be the push to motivate the player to keep trying.
Ultimately, “Spelunky 2” is a true test of a player’s willingness to persevere. Even after experiencing a crazy, Rube-Goldberg-machine death, the player will be immensely proud they progressed even a tiny bit further in the game than they did the last time. Derek Yu said in an interview, “my hope is that new players will want to persevere because we made the effort worth it.”
After playing the game, I think the effort is definitely worth it, and I will be spending my winter break practicing whipping arrow traps and cooking bombs. “Spelunky 2” is available on PlayStation as well as on Steam for Windows.