Death. I knew starting this review that I was going to see a lot of it. Following the success of the former game, Spelunky 2 has released. For those of you who haven’t touched this rogue-lite before, you’re in for an experience. Frequent deaths, frustrating losses, and an addictive one-more-turn feel that can keep you up into the early hours.
To the Moon
For story purposes, you play the game as Ana, the child of the original Spelunky Guy and Tina. She has followed in his footsteps in becoming a spelunker. You can choose between various unlockable characters though.
Spelunky Guy found himself haunted by dreams of the moon after his last adventure. To the point that he built a spaceship and set off to explore it. They never returned though.
Ana set off after him and found that they went into a cave on the moon. Something called them there. Much like the last game, time and death seem to work differently in the cave. Spelunky 2 has Ana exploring the caves and what lies below them.
It’s more of a premise than a story, but I feel like that’s all we need here. We’re on the moon and once more in the ever-changing levels. There are fun hints as to more which you’ll find as you go through the game, but we’re here for the gameplay.
Collecting Gold and Throwing Dogs
The basic idea of Spelunky 2 is to reach the end of a number of levels, grab as much treasure as you can, and to avoid death while doing so. Avoiding death is the hard part – this is not an easy game. You will face many different types of enemies, obstacles, and even sometimes angry shopkeepers. You can do this either by yourself or in co-op with up to four players locally. Online is out on PlayStation 4, but will be released later on PC due to issues the developer is having implementing it.
All you have to survive is a few ropes to climb up or down, a few bombs to blow up the terrain, and whatever equipment you can find or buy in the caves. That and whatever knowledge you can pick up from previous runs.
Being absolutely new to Spelunky 2 or the series as a whole, you’ll soon find yourself dying. But perhaps you’ll learn something on that run, like how useful the compass item is. Next time you might find out exactly what to do with the dogs laying around the stage. By chance, you might discover a second or third use for the turkeys you sometimes see. I’ve left this vague as it’s best to discover things yourself, but from small facts to big secrets, there’s a lot to find out in Spelunky 2 and it will help you survive.
The progression in this is why I enjoy it so much. Each time you die the levels change, so each run in the main mode is unique. This keeps things really fresh since you never face the same experience while often finding some new tactic or another way to get just a bit further next time. Half the fun is seeing just how far you can make it.
As part of the progression, you can even unlock shortcuts to jump straight to a level. This isn’t always a good idea, but it can be done. There are also lots of extra ways to challenge yourself related to the secrets hidden in the game. You may discover some of these yourself, but some of them you may want to look up after some time – some of the more complicated ones rely on a lot of conditions being fulfilled that you’d never normally see happen.
I’d describe Spelunky 2 as more of the same but better when compared to Spelunky. For those who have played the previous title, it’s familiar enough that you can pick it up and play.
There are quite a lot of new traps and while accidental death is still common, I’ve found they feel fairer. Random accidents seem more likely to hurt, rather than kill and there’s sometimes time to escape completely. Perhaps because of this, the game as a whole feels that bit easier. It’s still very challenging but between new ways to collect health and getting punched back instead of a spike to the face, it’s a bit kinder. With that said, some of the new enemies you meet even early on are more difficult, so it balances out in that way.
As with the previous game, you can take different paths to proceed in Spelunky 2. This time though, it’s not always quite as hidden. Even at the end of the first area, you can either choose to go through the right or left exit and end up at a different level depending on which you choose.
There are plenty of minor changes and small additions. In the end, a lot of the fun is exploring and finding out all these things, so I won’t go into it too deeply. Do try and jump on a turkey when you see one though.
Adventure mode is the main feature. Randomly generated levels that you need to proceed through. You can unlock seeded runs later to complete set dungeons and there’s a daily challenge which you can try to complete too.
As a bonus, there’s an Arena mode too. It’s a four-player battle. You can adjust the specifics, but the basic idea is fighting until you’re the last one standing, mostly using your standard ropes, bombs, and whip. Items do sometimes appear though. It’s a nice extra, but nothing too amazing.
Spelunky 2 takes what made the first game so good and adds to it. It’s a challenge that never seems to get old and it’s easy to find yourself losing track of time, as you have just one more go. There’s a lot to learn about the mines and if you like rogue-lites, you may just find yourself addicted to this one.
SPELUNKY 2 IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Thank you to Mossmouth for providing a PC review code for the game.
Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage
Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!
A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.