Spelunky falls into a broad category of games that I have heard good things about, but have never actually played. Thanks to the trial version that I downloaded on the PS4, I finally had a chance to experience this game for myself. Though my initial impression was fairly neutral, I quickly grew to appreciate Spelunky for its high difficulty and randomly generated levels, where you never quite know what’s going to happen.
The farthest I managed to get into the game was level 1-4, so that is all I can really talk about. Spelunky, on the surface, seems pretty simple and straightforward. You explore randomly generated caves, fight enemies, avoid traps, and collect treasure. You get items like bombs for blasting through walls and ropes for climbing right from the start, and you can buy other helpful items with your accumulated treasure whenever you happen upon a shop. As I touched upon earlier, my initial feelings towards the game were: “well, this is kinda neat” and “man, some of these deaths are brutal”. But as I tried repeatedly to complete level 1-4, where I was told that the end “was just in sight”, I began to realize how crazy this seemingly unassuming game can be.
Sure, I started to learn how to avoid certain traps and how certain enemies behaved. But just as I was getting the hang of things, new surprises would throw me off course. I accidentally angered the shopkeeper with some unintentional destruction. A boulder fell from the ceiling out of nowhere. I encountered a particularly dark cave that was best navigated by torchlight. Also, I guess the spiders are really big in this cave. That’s…great.
Though the game was very challenging, and one wrong move can spell disaster, I found myself constantly compelled to keep trying. Maybe I’d get lucky and I’d end up with a series of relatively easy caves. Or more interestingly, maybe something else dangerous and unexpected will happen to make my adventure just a bit more exciting. In the end, unexpected deaths were often more surprising and funny than they were frustrating.
In recent times, I had “suffered” through such difficult games as Cuphead and Celeste. If it wasn’t for those games having already eroded away at my tolerance for really tough challenges, I’d be interested in playing more of Spelunky (I don’t need the full version, though, until I can master the demo). As it is, however, I don’t think I’m in the mood for a really tough game at the moment. Even so, my time with Spelunky, though pitiful, was a lot of fun, and I can see why people enjoy it. Perhaps once I’ve recovered from my Cuphead-induced trauma, I might want to give Spelunky another chance.
This post was originally published on The Duck of Indeed on June 2, 2021.