Review

Spelunky 2 Review – Exciting Entropy

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“This is the race where I’m making real progress,” I said to myself. “The last time I got reckless, but this time it will be different.” With this assurance, I descend into the caves of Spelunky 2 for the umpteenth time. Masterfully dodging traps and whipping bats, spiders and snakes before they can steal my health from me, I easily jump to the first level. My confidence rises as I pick up a crossbow from the shopkeeper. Everything goes according to plan, when suddenly a horned lizard rolls inside me, knocking me over and setting off a glorious chain reaction with skeletons, arrow traps and ultimately, a spike pit that triggers my demise. I’m frustrated that my best shots fell apart so quickly, but as soon as the option to start a new one pops up, I can’t select it quickly enough. Despite the many times I screamed as my character’s body bounced like a pinball machine from scenarios like this, Spelunky 2 is endlessly fun. Keeping the same formula as its predecessor, the engaging roguelike action platformer immerses you in a procedurally generated cave system and challenges you to go deeper than last time around. The captivating difficulty and the randomization of the world combine effectively with this very desire to do better, giving the motivation to take another turn. As you dig deeper into the caverns, you discover new biomes, such as an aquatic-themed area with killer fish and octopus who are all too willing to end your run. While starting over at level 1-1 can make the experience tedious, multiple visits to the deeper areas allow you to start your run at this point instead. The procedural generation offers nearly endless levels to play, and the separate worlds introduce new elements and challenges to keep the experience fresh as you progress deeper into the caves. This time around, you can chart your way according to the challenges you want to overcome. After completing the first cave area, do you venture into a lush jungle awash with monkeys and man-eating plants? Or do you want to brave the volcanic foundry full of explosive robots and fire-breathing ladybugs? I love deciding which world to tackle when I reach these new areas, and I’m continually in awe of the difference between each biome and the others. As well as being able to choose your way through the caves, Spelunky 2 adds new secret areas you can dive into to find treasures, challenges, and even new characters to save and add to your grassroots community. It’s fun to see the people you save appear in your camp, but all too often these passages go nowhere which sometimes causes me to ignore them as they are usually a waste of time. This highlights the main pitfall of procedural generation: While skills clearly play a big role in your overall success, luck is also a factor as some races are much easier than others. Still, no race is impossible, as Spelunky 2 ensures that there is a clear path to the exit of each level, so I’ve tried to make sure I take advantage of the times when fortune favors me. While descending into the caves alone is a blast, you can ask for help in the form of NPCs, who are often so aggressive that the best you can hope for is that they’ll take down a few enemies on the way to cause their own demise. . You can also discover useful mounts like a turkey that can hit enemies’ heads and slide, a fire-breathing dog, or a bubble-spitting lizard. However, the best business to keep comes from multiplayer, which can now be played locally or online. As you might expect, chaos reigns supreme when you add more players to the mix; don’t expect to make better progress with your friends, but it’s really fun. Spelunky 2 is as addicting an experience as the one I played this year. The two-minute runs stack up into straight hours of play, and “just one more try” easily turns into an afternoon of exploring, dying and trying again. Spelunky 2 is captivating, stressful and exciting all at the same time, and even now I can’t wait to test my mettle again in the ever-changing cave walls.

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