Spelunki 2 Review: Perfection – Polygons

Derek Yu created the perfect video game in 2008. He had to live with it ever since.

came first Spelunky, A Pixel PC adventure released for free on a video game forum for friends and companions. It puts you in the shoes of a small Indiana Jones-type explorer who collides through a series of funnels, in which traps, villains, and treacherous falls, bombs, using little more than ropes. And whatever occasional shopkeeper will sell it. A spate of math and creativity generated the game’s stages procedurally, which is a great way to say that no one walks by two Spelunky Will be exactly the same. Some big-name designers and some small-name critics called it a mini-masterpiece.

Yu expanded to perfection in 2012 with the help of a small squad Spelunky HD, An initial modification and expansion of the original game; It was released on the Xbox 360, and eventually elsewhere. Yu and the team added multiplayer with a daily online leaderboard. Along with the rise of video game livestreaming, the HD version received a very dedicated fandom of video makers, which mined it for mysteries. Then came toys, T-shirts and countless faving reviews, including my own.

U publish Spelunky Book in 2016, explaining how he created the “perfect game” in the autobiography-slash-design-document. It read like closed.

It is not that U have been unproductive for 12 years Spelunky started. He co-designed a card game, and was gradually developed into something similar to a video game mixtape. He went on to become a husband, a father, and some elder statesman in the indie video game world, his work inspired countless other sports, books and podcasts. But for better and worse, he will be made Spelunky, And there was a question for most of us, even though we were afraid to ask it out loud: “What’s next?”

The answer, as you know by now, is Spelunky 2, Which PlayStation 4 on Sept. Launches 15 and arrives on Windows PC later this month. You are patient with my table setting, so I’ll tell you at the top: I adore this game. If you are a fan of the original, I hope you fall in love too.

But how the hell do you make a perfect game sequel? My best answer, 20 hours deep, is not you.

Image: Mossmouth / Blitworks via polygons

Spelunki can never end

Spelunky 2 Not a sequel – or, at least, I won’t use that term. This is somewhat different, such as many modern games that blur the lines between remasters, reboots, remakes, and reimaging. This warrants new words.

Spelunky 2The initial stages are similar to the original Spelunky, Just a little love. Imagine someone using tracing paper to recreate a favorite painting, adding their own flourish and modification. Once again, you start in a cave filled with spiders, skeletons, bats, and golden statues, which spawn you to set up their deadly trap. Except now, things are ever so different.

Yellow lizards fill the room like big balls chasing Indi, and excited pieces cut from the ground like earthquake shocks, you know, Tremors. Step onto a clay surface, containing a packet of moles, and pop up to cut sharp-toothed critters, reminding familiar territory of “floor lava” with our protagonist from a makeshift stage Leaps into another.

The early stages (and, in time, the entire game) feel as familiar but deadly as U-redesigned Spelunky Specially To punish those of us who became complacent after eight years of speed, they were accustomed to bite like Bill Murray Groundhog Day. Your muscle memory is against you.

In Spelunki 2, our hero contemplates rolling the dice for a parachute.

Image: Mossmouth / Blitworks via Polygon

Like its predecessor, Spelunky 2 Every creature, trap, and object operates the universe like a miniature clock serving a purpose, and every action on the screen causes an appropriate response. For newcomers, it is harder and harder. This is not a game you beat in your first attempt. Or your hundredth.

The goal of Spelunky Not to beat the game, anyway. The goal is to understand our world. You get to know how to use everything in the room and, in turn, how to save it. Each session is ideally a bit longer than the previous. Five minutes. Six minutes. Then 15 minutes. You progress, die, lose every upgrade and item, then restart with nothing more than the way you learned. An inspired Twitter follower recently showed me his technique for documenting success, inputting the stage where he died in a spreadsheet and creating a chart. Gradually, the line moves upward.

Biggest advantage in Spelunky Vision: You can always see danger up and down. So now, Yu & co. Take away that benefit. For this go-round, the team has found ways to hide the entire swaths of each stage. Throughout the levels, you will now find doors, many of them closed, that give rise to additional treasures, enemies, traps and secrets to become a completely new stage.

The decision to layer new environments over each other is blunt, with one plane hiding hidden threats inside another. But it works, and I think because Spelunky 2 The basic joy of video games is: giving and taking power. A good game makes us feel like a god, but one great The game reminds us that we are human.

In Spelunki 2, our hero holds a magical key in search of a secret passage.

Image: Mossmouth / Blitworks via Polygon

I had doubts about the caves inside the caves when I first saw them in the trailer Spelunky 2. He looked incomplete and annoying, adding much to the series known for its simplicity and visual acumen. but I have fallen in love with them and they invite me to go deeper into the game, deliberately stalling my progress, deliberately risking everything for nothing but discovery. And the stages within the stages are literally a metaphor of U’s design with each entry in the Spelunki canon, layering and layering and layering. And layering.

With each version – freeware original, Spelunky HD, Spelunky 2 – You come to all the familiar things, now a little different or puckishly inverted. Here is the shopkeeper with all the usual merchandise for sale. More bombs, more ropes. The compass that points you to the end of each level, and the pickaxe that helps you create shortcuts.

But now, depending on what’s in stock, you can also buy a handful of new items, like a power pack, that upgrades your whip into a flaming whip and your bombs to larger bombs. Or, the shopkeeper is replaced in a challenge room by a woman selling tickets, filled with traps and cash. Or, is in neither level. Instead, you find that the Walrus Lady entices you to roll the dice to win the prize, protected by a burning, purple plasma ray.

All these additions to Spelunki provide new ways to bring their own benefits and problems through the world. An example: During the game you double-jump across and turkey like a fiery demon dog and swim safely on the ground.

I am a fan of turkey, who once beheads your enemies. The turkey comes with options. You can return the turkey to the owner of one of the aforementioned closed doors; You can ride a turkey in the second stage; Or you can burn the turkey with a fiery whip, cook it in a Thanksgiving-style dish that gives you a little health. Fair warning, though: If you roast the turkey in front of the turkey owner, it will kill you directly. So much sense!

The further you go Spelunky 2, Its connection to its predecessors turns into something strange. You make two exits at the end of the early caves, one towards the familiar forest and the other towards a lava-soaked crag. Later, a familiar boss reappears, but less challenging than before, a silly joke. Spelunky There are notoriously secret levels that lead to a secret boss, and they reappear, but the familiar totems serve new purposes and take you in real new directions.

In Spelunki 2, our hero wields a sword in a stone.

Image: Mossmouth / Blitworks via Polygon

I confess that for these reasons, I have not beaten Spelunky 2. I have reached the mainline “final” boss, and I know how to defeat them. I just can’t help but be distracted by all the other directions in which I can go. If I see a mysterious door or get caught on an unfamiliar item, if I find an allied ally or a risky bonus challenge, I’ll risk it all. Partly because I want to explore this world, and partly because I don’t want to end this game.

I know that the game does not end when it is “finished”. I can play competitive multiplayer, which is cluttered meat. And I’m totally smoking with online co-op, which is the opposite of the previous Spelunky, Making the game more manageable, especially for first-timers. But the task of searching and completing yourself? He only comes once.

Or does it?

In Spelunki 2, our hero finds himself trapped in a pit of lava.

Image: Mossmouth / Blitworks via Polygon

I called Spelunky In the 2010 sports essay I wrote last year. “Spelunky The closest that video games have come to perfection in this decade – or any decade, ”I said. “Its faults and bugs are not problems; They are brushstrokes, proof that this small piece of the divine was actually created by humans. “

To expand on that, Yu’s approach to Spelunki as a living project is reminiscent of JMW Turner, a provocative English romantic painter. Turner would notoriously hang his paintings in competitions, then continue to revise and revise the work in the middle of public view. The already beautiful landscapes became somehow more vibrant and striking. A few days later, he could return to a masterpiece and discover yet another profusion piece with a few extra strokes.

You know when you fall in love with a movie or book or game, and you wish you could experience it again for the first time? Have felt the same Spelunky 2. I want to play my favorite game again for the first time.

This is not a sequel. This is another opportunity to play the role of Spelunki with fresh eyes; Everything is just a little different, another stroke that proves perfection is incomplete. Even the best can be better.

Spelunky 2 Will be released on September 4 on Windows 4 and September 29 on Windows PC. The game was played on PC using the download code provided by Mossmouth. Vox Media has an affiliate partnership. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media can earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find Additional information about polygamy’s ethics policy here.