Spelunky 2 Review

In the world of video games, timing can be everything. If a promising property is released alongside an existing IP, it can struggle to find an audience, or if an indie title like Fall Guys hits the spot because gamers are desperate for something new, it can it found a huge audience. In the case of Mossmouth’s Spelunky 2, the timing is perfect for a revival of the spelunking rogue-like.

While many sequels, especially those released almost 8 years after their predecessor, try to focus on making major changes to their formula, Spelunky 2 sticks to its whips. Developer Mossmouth has made many adjustments to ensure that Spelunky 2 looks and plays better than Spelunky 1 but it never abandons the core principles of the original. This is how a near perfect sequel should be.

Spelunky 2 picks up many years after the original and puts players in control of the son of the main spelunker from the first game. Although she is warned not to follow her parents, the girl ventures to the moon and finds a similar labyrinth of shifting “rooms” awaiting her. He must venture through four unique biomes (each with about 4 stages) to try to find the mystery behind his parents’ disappearance and maybe pick up some treasure along the way.

The basics of Spelunky are completely intact for Spelunky 2. Players work their way past several enemies, traps, and obstacles while collecting gold to purchase useful items for offense, defense, traversal. They can go as fast or as slow as they want, but there is always a drawback to either approach. Rushing through a level can lead to a quick death, as players start with only 4HP. Walking slowly allows players to take risks, but the game has ways to punish those who take too long. One wrong move and players start from square one.

spelunky 2 review

Spelunky 2, like its predecessor, is all about the method. Yes, speedrunners can zip through Spelunky 2’s levels in seconds, but the average gamer knows the dangers lurking everywhere. Mossmouth ups the ante when it comes to death/damage devices in Spelunky 2 and one misstep can be the difference between a clean run through a zone and an instant restart.

Some of the classics return for Spelunky 2, like the spider, the snake, and the cunning salesman, but there are also a dozen or so new enemies. Most of these new enemies feature completely unique behavior that will force even hardcore Spelunky fans to try new strategies. One of the new enemies, the hedgehog, floats on the ground and can appear right next to the player, preventing them from sitting on a pathway for too long. Mossmouth has clearly studied its playerbase to understand what can slow things down just enough to make the experience fresh but fair.

Without a doubt, Spelunky 2 is a more difficult game than the first. The general setup is the same, so veterans should have an easier time progressing early, but even they will have to adapt to the new traps and enemies. Spelunky has a way of convincing players that certain obstacles or enemies are manageable, but then an overlooked detail like a spider on the ceiling can completely derail things. Everyone has a strategy they like but most will hone in on the tried and true strategy of carrying something to use to either spring traps or take out enemies. And then a stop at the store can provide more tools to help with that task, like a webgun, teleporter, or spiked shoes. Spelunky’s unmistakable DNA is there from top to bottom, but with clever improvements/refinements.

Visually, Spelunky 2 is very vibrant and the environments have a lot more going on in terms of detail. Building off of a PS3-era release, Spelunky 2 simply tries to take advantage of the more powerful hardware to make the overall art style pop. The animations are a bit smoother and the effects give things like explosions a bit more personality, but everything is still in line with what fans have come to expect. It’s not a knock to say that this looks like a better Spelunky with awesome water and lava.

Music is also one of the signature elements of the series and once again Mossmouth knocks it out of the park. With instruments that evoke the feeling of caves, forbidden temples, and lost technology, Spelunky 2 has a soundtrack that makes its gameplay addictive. Due to the run-based nature of the game, where players will find themselves revisiting areas over and over again, the game needs to find a balance between charming and grating. Spelunky 2 nailed it.

spelunky 2 review

While the core gameplay loop of Spelunky 2 centers around progressing through each level and eventually defeating a final encounter, the game is filled with more mystery than some players realize. Veterans will know that the first Spelunky only really begins once they defeat the Olmec for the first time, and the same is true here. Secret doors, NPC “quests,” and alternate paths are par for the course in Spelunky 2, and discovering them all enriches the experience. Each roguelike encourages replayability in a different way, and Spelunky 2’s flavor is mystery. If the players choose, there is a wealth of lore and more than what is on the surface. There’s also a fun base-building element where players can populate their starting camp with NPCs they meet along the way and see its evolution as they progress.

Spelunky 2 took the baton from Spelunky 1 and immediately hit its stride. Jumping through caves, hitting bats, throwing rocks, and knocking over pots is just as fun and challenging 8 years later. Mossmouth stayed true to its original vision in a way that would please fans, but packaged in enough new content to make sure things didn’t feel like a rehash. As a result, Spelunky 2 isn’t trying to convert anyone who wasn’t a fan of the first game. The game has a very specific approach and is not for everyone, but people who adored the first game are guaranteed to feel the same about the sequel. At a time when players are less inclined to take risks with their purchases, Spelunky 2 offers the comfort of familiarity.

Spelunky 2 is available now for PS4 and will be released next month for PC. Today Technology was provided with a PS4 code for this review.

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