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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (446)

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Horizon: Zero Dawn 4.5/5
Oxenfree 4/5
Murdered: Soul Suspect 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3/5
Celeste 4.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3/5
Just Cause 3 3.5/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5
Rise of the Tomb Raider 4/5
Dead Rising 3 4/5
Layers of Fear 3.5/5
Prey 3/5
Zero-K 2/5
Tales from the Borderla... 4/5
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 4.5/5
Hammerwatch 3/5
AereA 1/5
Divinity: Original Sin 4.5/5
The Yawhg 4/5
Sword Coast Legends 3.5/5
Spelunky 2.5/5
We Are the Dwarves 1/5
Seiken Densetsu 3 ( Sec... 2.5/5
No Man's Sky 3.5/5

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Spelunky   PC (Steam) 

Masochists Wanted for Tomb Raiding    2.5/5 stars

Unlike some other resident rouge-like (or lite) haters, I am not against the genre. I am fond of some rouge-likes I have played: The Binding of Isaac, Rogue Legacy and Legend of Dungeon are all rouge-likes I have enjoyed in the past. I have several more on my list I'm willing to give a chance as well. The reason I like the above-mentioned games is that they are not over-punishing. Yes, there are times it can get frustrating but, for the most part, it balances the toughness with enough variety to keep me coming back for more. Spelunky, however, falls too much in the punishing category and not so much in the variety. Not quite Super Meat Boy punishing for a platformer, but you're more likely to die than make any kind of progress and the frustration factor is very high.

Presentation: I really don't have much bad to say about how Spelunky looks. The design is very cartoonish, with the characters presented in chibi-like fashion. Enemies are the same, with even giant spiders looking kind of cute. But the deceptive looks hides brutal gameplay in that everything wants to kill you in spectacular fashion. The level design has plenty of variety (you know, something importer for a rogue-like) with some being overly-aggressive and others almost zen-like in nature (until you fall on some spikes and die instantly). The music is pleasant enough - once again, lulling you into a false sense of security. No voices, but that's not much of factor here.

Story: Erm, I guess you're some explorer following in the footsteps of some ancient Chinese explorer in some South American ruins and something something treasure. There's not much here, none of the characters (Indiana-Jones type, token British explorer, Middle-Eastern guy, a women) have a distinct story or personality and play exactly the same. You can unlock cheeky journal entries for the monsters you kill and items you find, though it doesn't seem to add to the actual story. There may be more to the story as you go (and, I'm guessing some kind of ending) but we never got far enough for that.

Gameplay: Much like Rogue Legacy, Spelunky is a 2D platformer with a distinct start and end point. Being a rogue-like, the levels are never quite the same between plays. Essentially you start at one door and need to make your way to the exit door - sounds easy enough, right? You are given a limited set of tools (a bomb, a grappling hook) to help you out if you need, and can find/buy more. There is also plenty of loot (gold bars, gems) scattered about you can use to buy more items - like shoes that let you grip walls, a jet pack, guns and other assorted goodies. You can find items in chests, but they seem few and far between, often requiring you to find a key first, then a chest.

You also have a set (and small) amount of life - and everything wants to kill you in this game. If you fall on spikes? Instant death. Fall from too high? Instant death. Get an arrow to the face? Enemy jumps on you? Someone throws an errant rock at you? Accidentally set a bomb? Dead. Dead. Dead. Mostly Dead. Dead. Also, you can piss off shopkeepers who will suddenly turn terminator and blow you away with a shotgun, or take too long in a level unleashing an unkillable reaper who will track you down. Or even unleash a mighty boulder by grabbing a golden idol (Indiana Jones style). But don't worry, the game also lets you rescue a damsel (provided you don't accidentally kill her too) who will give you kiss, the only way to replenish your life between levels.

I haven't tried to play this solo, but I have a feeling it's not much different from our co-op experience. The biggest problem with multiplayer is that it only follows the "main" player, and everyone else has to stay close enough to said player or risk off-screen death. Luckily, you can revive fallen comrades, providing you find a coffin (only revives one person at a time, based on what order they died in). But still, errant deaths were all too common, and when you die you become a mostly-ineffective ghost - you can set off traps and slightly annoy enemies, but little else. We managed to make it through six whole stages (out of 20) working our way to the jungle stage, but, really, I don't even know if that's an accomplishment after several hours of gaming.

Replayability: Considering the whole purpose of a rouge-like is to provide a different experience every time, there is of course a lot of variety. Levels, enemies, items - everything changes every time. But that doesn't change the nature of the game, which is to kill you over and over and over ad nauseum. So if you're into that kind of thing, props, me, I want a game I can actually feel like I can beat.

Overall: Spelunky is the Dark Souls of 2D platformers - unforgiving, rage-inducing, punishing and all on purpose. Don't let the cute graphics fool you, this game is brutal.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 2/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Replayability: 5/5 (masochists only)
Overall (not an average): 2.5/5

 

 


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Nelson Schneider

Nelson Schneider- wrote on 07/28/18 at 03:58 PM CT

 

Spelunky is worse than Dark Souls, and Super Meat Boy isn't punishing, as you never lose any progress for dying.

 
 
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