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Spelunky Review

by Eric Farmer 7 months ago in product review
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Is Spelunky a Good Game?

Spelunky Title Screen - Spelunky Screenshot

1000 Ways to Die

Spelunky was first released by Derek Yu in around 2008. This older version is quite quaint, and it reminds me of Nintendo Entertainment System games (NES). This version is now referred to as Spelunky Classic.

For this review, I am going to focus on the 2013 release of Spelunky. This version of the game has updated graphics and some other changes.

When I say Spelunky, I will refer to the updated version. This version of the game is also sometimes called Spelunky HD.

Spelunky is a very punishing but rewarding adventure game. I am going to review the game and explain what I think about the game.

Why Did I Review This Game?

I reviewed Spelunky because it is one of my all-time favorite video games. I love the game and every single thing about it.

At one point on Steam, Spelunky was my single player game with the most hours played. I have fond memories of playing Spelunky.

How Long Have I Been Playing Spelunky?

I have been playing the game for a very long time.

I was having a phase where I played Spelunky 2 more for a while. But I have not played either Spelunky game recently.

I played Spelunky for a few days. I could remember what it is like to play the game.

What Kind of Game Is Spelunky?

Like all of my favorite games, Spelunky is a rogue-lite game. When you die, you start over from the beginning. Dying in-game is part of the game’s lore. That was a somewhat interesting story twist.

The game is a bit of an adventure game. You explore levels, often going down until you find the exit. The game is quite simple.

The mines - Spelunky Screenshot

Spelunky Is Silly Hard

I would not be doing my due diligence if I did not take the time to explain how hard Spelunky is.

You might think silly hard is an odd way to describe a game. I feel that perfectly describes Spelunky. I will explain why.

In the game, you have life points, and you start the game with four.

Almost anything that can hurt you damages you for one life point, if not more. Also, some things instantly kill you.

That is why the game becomes comical in how it seemingly finds ways to kill you. The game starts to feel like a dark comedy skit. There are so many ways to die in Speunky.

I died from a spider bite - Spelunky Screenshot

All of these examples can happen in seconds. Slight spoilers.

Get shot by an arrow trap? Two health points of damage. You get sent flying down too far and take one point of damage. You are stunned. Now a snake bites you. You are damaged one point of health. You died.

Open up a chest and a bomb you didn't see pops out? It explodes, and you die.

Get thrown into a mine by a Yeti monster. Or maybe it throws you off the level? Either way, game over.

A random rock from nowhere, probably propelled by an explosion, smacks my character in the head. I had only one life point. I died.

Start a level. Then a UFO flies into a mine and then explodes. The UFO then crashes into you, killing you before you even move (Yes, this happened.)

Those things look like spikes. But if I land on them do the- I died from the spikes.

Something I didn’t do made a shopkeeper angry, and now I died from being shot or thrown around too much.

That trap is moving very fa- I died. The game says I've been ground into a fine paste.

A teleporter? Wow, look at me go! I ca- teleports into a wall and dies.

Spelunky Gives You a Lot Choice

In almost every level of the game, there is only one goal. Find the exit and get to the next level. This simple goal gives you a huge amount of freedom in levels.

You can explore as much as you want. Want to see and grab everything? You can do that. Want to skip as much as possible and escape quickly? You can do that as well.

The game tries to generate a route you can always take in levels. But you can get the exit in whatever way you want.

You can use items like bombs, ropes, and other upgrades like the cape to maneuver around in levels in ways the game doesn’t plan on you doing. I love to create paths to exits in levels.

Spelunky does a great job at having a sense of true exploration.

Going to the next level - Spelunky Screenshot

Take Your Time. But Don’t Take Too Long!

Slight game mechanic spoilers.

After exactly two minutes and 30 seconds in most levels, a ghost will fly in from one of the level boundaries.

This ghost will slowly float towards you and pass through everything. If the ghost touches you, it kills you no matter how many health points you have.

The ghost - Spelunky Screenshot

Under most circumstances, the ghost is invincible. At best, you can find ways to slow it down a little.

The ghost stops players from taking too long exploring levels.

When I first played the game, I thought the ghost was a nuisance. I didn’t like it.

But as I played the game more and got better at it, I saw that the ghost is an obstacle a good player can avoid.

Then I figured out with the right items, you can dodge the ghost almost forever. As long you don’t make mistakes.

Then I learned if the ghost passes through gems, it upgrades them into diamonds. The ghost rewards high skill by giving players a chance to get more points.

Do I Think the Game Looks Good?

The game looks nice enough, and it has a very bright and colorful art style. Spelunky HD is a sharp contrast to Spelunky Classic style wise.

I like this art style as I think it will never become “bad”.

I showed a snail who is boss! - Spelunky Screenshot

Do I Think the Game Sounds Good?

I like the sounds and music in the game. I like certain songs more than others in the game. I like the music in the game enough that I have bought the soundtrack.

One thing I am disappointed about is the fact that there are no versions of Spelunky Classic songs in this game or Spleunky 2.

It would have been cool to hear remixed versions of the Spelunky classic songs. I would have been happy if the songs were only in the game as an easter egg.

Is Spelunky a Good Value?

Spelunky costs $15 (USD) when not on sale.

Of course, it is a great value! Spelunky is one of the best rogue-lite games of all time! I paid full price for the game, and I am still happy with this purchase year later.

Spelunky does not have any DLC.

Do I Recommend Buying Spelunky?

So there is an obvious conflict here. Is Spelunky worth buying when Spelunky 2 is out? Spelunky 2 is a good game, if not better in some ways.

That is a bit of a hard choice to make. Both games are similar. But they are different enough experiences.

Spelunky 2 has more branching paths and exploration, and the first game has more linear paths. The second game is harder to play as well.

If I had to choose between the first and second Spelunky game, I would buy the second game.

If you want to play a classic but hard game, I still would recommend Spelunky. The fact that there is a sequel doesn’t stop this game from being fun.

You can always go back and buy the first if you enjoy the second game.

How Often Do I Play Spelunky?

I don’t play the Spelunky anymore. The last time I have played the game was for this review. I am currently playing and beating some other rouge-lite games.

product review

About the author

Eric Farmer

I love writing about video games, and I often write reviews for my favorite computer games.

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