Spelunky Review

As Spelunky makes its way to the PC, the rewards and dangers are just as alluring as they were one year ago.

Any god worth its deific salt knows how to punish transgressors. Expect spiders to rain down upon the head of anyone who dares to destroy the sacred altar of Kali. And if you're so cavalier that two holy places are shattered by your hand, a punishment worthy of such disrespect is yours to bear. Moving isn't so easy with a ball and chain tied to your leg, is it? Blasphemers are not long for this world, but when death finally smothers the brazen explorer, it's not the end. In Spelunky, dying is the beginning of a story that twists your torment into a hilarious lesson in self-preservation. One year after its Xbox 360 debut, Spelunky arrives on the PC, and proves how satisfying the life of a doomed explorer can be.

Don't expect every jewel to be as easy to nab.

As you enter an underground mine to begin your adventure, you're greeted by a series of randomly generated levels populated by all manner of traps, enemies, and treasure. Initially, Spelunky is indistinguishable from a typical 2D platformer. You whip snakes, leap ravines, rescue damsels, and exit through the door to the next stage. Accidentally trigger that arrow trap or get overwhelmed by the slow-moving bats, however, and you find that punishment is severe. When you die, you restart from the beginning of the game. The cash you earned? The items you collected? All gone.

Progress comes not from tangible rewards but rather from the knowledge you gain. The first time you encounter an arrow trap, you fall blissfully past it, only to find a feathered shaft lodged in your abdomen. The next time, you aren't quite so ignorant. Drop a rock or a dead caveman to trigger the barrage, and then walk peacefully past the arrow trap once its ammunition is spent. You learn that spiders often hide in pots, that blue snakes can spit venom an impressive distance, and that you should never take the fluttering of bats lightly. With dangers all around, you keep your head on a swivel, aware of the spiders overhead, the caveman down below, and a wild-eyed mammoth just offscreen.

Trying to perform a key run in a pitch-black level should test even veteran explorers.

Your death count spirals ever higher. One dozen, one hundred, one thousand, and every one of those spent lives has made you better. No longer do you drop from a ledge without ensuring there aren't spikes waiting for you below, and you've learned to avoid dawdling lest a ghost chase you to the grave. And yet, even the most vigilant explorer will find a brutal end. The random elements conspire to make your adventure troublesome. With three rescued damsels and a compass, you may feel secure as you venture forth in the ice caves. But only one misstep as you flee from a pursing alien is enough to cut your run short. Still, you press on. There's so much thrill in succeeding that you can't help starting again, and you know that if you're careful, you can survive your quest. Except that's one big if.

New on the PC is a daily challenge that shows just how meager your skills are. Every person competes in the same set of levels--no randomness here--in an attempt to nab as many jewels as possible. With everyone starting from the same point, these competitions give you a good way to measure how you rank among the thriving community. Only one attempt is possible each day, so make sure you're giving your best effort. Fumbling your way to an inglorious end makes the 24-hour wait until a new challenge opens interminable. Your good name has been sullied, after all. Even though the daily challenge is a fine addition, making this a pure score attack does limit its potential. Forcing people to carry the key as far as possible or build their hearts to the heavens could have infused this with some welcome variety.

Two more tweaks have eliminated the two frustrations that existed on the Xbox 360. First, no longer do stray objects hurt you. In the previous version, you could lose a heart when a rock or arrow bounced toward you, which is maddening when health is at such a premium. Changing that aspect means that every death is entirely your fault, so you have no one to blame for failure but yourself. The second change is also much appreciated. Helpers can still be hired or found within the labyrinthine stages who are happy to do your dirty work. Before, you could expect these friends to cause havoc by attacking shopkeepers. The added chaos made taking someone along with you a masochistic decision. Now, your buddies behave properly, and even though they aren't smart, having a bodyguard nearby makes it slightly easier to brave the many dangers.

Meet king yeti and his bouncing minions.

Spelunky also contains both cooperative and competitive endeavors that serve as forgettable novelties rather than enticing alternatives to the single-player quest. In cooperative play, you travel through the same caves and jungles as you would alone, only with up to three friends by your side. Trying to work in harmony is certainly an interesting experience that should lead to one or two arguments, but forcing everyone to be on the same screen leads to many annoying deaths, and not having a way to play online limits the audience. Competitive play has the same issues. Trying to kill other people is certainly different from hunting spiders, but it's too chaotic to be fulfilling long term. Just stick with the single-player game.

Returning to this downloadable adventure one year after the original debuted only solidifies how expertly designed it is. Spelunky makes excellent use of its random nature to keep you hooked as you strive to dive ever deeper into the mysterious depths. And if restarting from the beginning seems too much punishment for you to bear, there are shortcuts to open if your skills are honed enough. Completing the tunnel man's tasks teaches you the myriad ways to experience this adventure, so the shortcuts serve as a teaching tool in addition to delivering a tangible reward. The best lesson you can learn is to be humble. As Spelunky proves, hubris spells the doom of many a greedy explorer.

The Good
Excellent risk-reward dynamic
Great variety of enemies, traps, and items
Unlocking shortcuts forces you to play differently
Lots of flexibility in how to progress
The Bad
Multiplayer is offline only
8.5
Great
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Discussion

121 comments
wowgrandpa
wowgrandpa

can this be played with KBM, or does it only work with controller?

KeviNOlighT
KeviNOlighT

Such an awesome game, it's definetely a 10 for me.

I't also a blast to play with friends. It's really crazy.
I understand why there's no multiplayer online, but I could imagine a way to adhere the comunication between playeres isue with simbols or something like that.
For example, there could be a modifier key (or button) that, when pressed along a directional key, an animated arrow apears on top of the character pointing in the direction he/she wants the others to go. The same could be done for pointing to a direction you don't want the others to go. Also, the accion keys could be used for other stuf like warning there's a trap and things like that ahead (the player would then follow that with a directional pointer). Those simbols would be very notorious for the lider and not so much for the others. I wonder if this would be too complicated? Or if there's a lack of budget  given it's an independent developer? Or what reason was there to not include online mp?

Anyway, I love this game, hah.

nkaiton
nkaiton

I'm looking forward to getting this on PS3.

AC-FAN-I-AM
AC-FAN-I-AM

I really like your reviews Tom, they're well written and objective, I don't give a damn of what anyone else thinks.

anaxim777
anaxim777

I disagree with the 8,5.For this type of game its a pure 9.5 or more.

If anyone hates instadeath  but wants to give the genre a try ,THIS game is the one.(you have to be a little patient in the first 1-2 hours though)

And Im not a great fun of the genre , for example I hate Rogue Legacy.


edinko
edinko

Why is the MP even an issue? Does it really have to be shoehorned in every game? This game doesn't need any MP whatsoever and its not the only one. If you bought for example the new tomb raider did you really buy it for the lame gears of war MP part?wasted money

-JMD-
-JMD-

This guy just won my respect as a fellow troll! Just to troll up a bit, he gives this game a 8.5, more 0.5 then "The Last of Us!".

Tom Mc Shea, I salute you!

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

Spelunky is the only one of the countless indie platformers I was able to get into. Great review, but I would have liked to see the game get a medal for it's soundtrack. The music is unbelievably awesome.

tomservo51
tomservo51

SO better than last of us eh? LOL sorry, I'll show myself out.

Fallout_red
Fallout_red

I really think this is one of very few games that deserve a perfect 10 out of 10 but that was a great review and getting 8.5 from Tom is almost like 10/10 :)

Lord_of_Terrans
Lord_of_Terrans

Is it a turd in the top left corner, next to the bomb?

uxtull
uxtull

I'd give it a solid 10.

thorn3000
thorn3000

have not tried it yet, but generally looks like Terraria

kohle36
kohle36

I dunno, maybe Tom just mailed it in today. Like he came in with a huge hangover and just mashed the numpad with his face.

komuchen
komuchen

Some people said, that when you slap "indie" on the game, for this guy it's instant classic, and this review proves it.

But first, to have it outta way, I will explain what happened with DuckTales review

Tom: Damn, I wrote my shitty nostalgia article, but have only two games, and Zelda is medicore, but good. I need something more

Someone at gs: hey, who wants to review DuckTales: Remastered?

Tom: (That's it! I will play it for 10 minutes to record footage and shit all over it. I hated the original and it blows, but holds pretty well) I'll do it!

And that's what happened with DuckTales. Why do I bring that up, you ask? Because Spelunky is also a remaster. They added few unlockables, levels and leaderboards (like DuckTales), and yet it's suddenly gamechanger. Even though you can get it for free and not loose that much. Double-standard, anyone?

Don't get me wrong, Spelunky is a good game, but when you write review on based lies/misinformation and your own hatred for original, then what you get is a shitty review, for which this guy is known for.

It's also better than Rogue Legacy, and shares the same score (in Tom's head also, if not better)... just saying.

KeviNOlighT
KeviNOlighT

@wowgrandpaYes, you can even play multiplayer with your KB. Also, you can use Xpadder or some program like that to bind the KB keys to a controller if you don't have a natively supported one (I play with my friends with two players on the KB, one using the KB, the other one using a controller with Xpadder and other two using supported controllers).

ju5tm4rc
ju5tm4rc

@AC-FAN-I-AM I absolutely agree. A great reviewer, with some of the most reflective opinions I have come across.

TomMcShea
TomMcShea

@anaxim777 Yeah, this really could get a 9.5 or higher. It's really special. Numbers are a tricky thing.

cousinmerl
cousinmerl

@anaxim777 this game is frickin awesome! would have been amazing with proper online multi-player mode.

TomMcShea
TomMcShea

@-JMD- I gave Spelunky an 8.5 when it was originally released for the Xbox 360 one year ago.

edinko
edinko

@-JMD- Well this game is probably better than last of us so why not? gameplaywise

TomMcShea
TomMcShea

@DinoBuster I was actually thinking how much I loved the music. Never gets old no matter how much I hear  it.

TomMcShea
TomMcShea

@tomservo51 You can't really compare the two games, but I can say that I enjoy this significantly more than The Last of Us. One year after it first came out and I'm still seeing new things. This game is insanely good.

headbanger1186
headbanger1186

@thorn3000 If you liked Terraria, you'll love this. If you hated Terraria, you'll love this. They're nothing alike but this is a kick ass game.

uxtull
uxtull

@thorn3000 It's nothing like Terraria.

TomMcShea
TomMcShea

@komuchen Yeah, I agree that this is better than Rogue Legacy. Oh well. Score isn't everything. I love both games.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

@komuchen are you slow? this isn't a remaster like ducktales, this is a release onto a different platform. Same game but now on PC whereas before it wasn't on PC. Sorta like how skyrim has a score for xbox, pc, and ps3.

Killermonkey97
Killermonkey97

@komuchen What's the point of making this comment? To enlighten everyone around you? Just PM Tom, dude. You clearly have a serious beef about how he treated DuckTales, clearly one of the greatest and most flawless NES games ever to be graced upon us. Talking about your feelings in a "Spelunky" review is stupid because he doesn't find problems with Spelunky the same way he finds problems with DuckTales just because "hey it's a remaster too." And throwing Rogue Legacy in there too because it got a 8.5 by someone else? UGH. Quit revolving your little world around a damn number, kid.

Deadlysyns87
Deadlysyns87

@komuchen Except Tom liked the original and he has stated this multiple times. So your wrong sorry to burst your bubble

-JMD-
-JMD-

@TomMcShea @-JMD-  So, if MGS4 was released again for the X360 or pc and was still as good as the PS3 version, will it still be a perfect 10? Sorry. But i dont like that logic.



-JMD-
-JMD-

@edinko Yeah, way better than the "Last of Us"! We can see it by the game story, gameplay and outstanding game immersion! lol :D

cousinmerl
cousinmerl

@TomMcShea @DinoBuster does a little when you've died 3000 times!
its still nice when it throws a new tune you haven't heard for years or when you get the egg plant prize from the sacrifice temple  

drekula2
drekula2

@TomMcShea @tomservo51 


and there you go.  you don't need to have a $30 million budget and realistic cutscenes to make a great game.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@TomMcShea @komuchen "Score isn't everything" Wow, truer words have never been written, because no one seems to understand that simple fact.

komuchen
komuchen

@stan_boyd  It isn't? So what the hell is that free Spelunky game? Also, Ducktales wasn't released on PS3/X360/PC so what are you talking about? This also shouldn't count as a remaster, but a "release onto a different platform?

Spelunky exists since like 2008/2009, on x360 it got pimped and now is released on PC, so yes, it is a remaster.

komuchen
komuchen

@Killermonkey97 @komuchen Well, learn to read, that's one. Two, he creams with Rogue Legacy, that's true. Three, I'm not saying it's flawless (where you see that? Oh, I get it, McShea defense).

Also, I'm still waiting for his list of "lots and lots".

komuchen
komuchen

@Deadlysyns87"DuckTales Remastered will make you doubt happy memories from your childhood, or leave you baffled as to why people were nostalgic for such dull platforming in the first place." Bubble of what? That's a stab at original.

-JMD-
-JMD-

@TomMcShea @-JMD- And now, after reading about Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, i feel even more older... Dammit, some games in our past, were truly great... I just wish i could play them again for the first time...

TomMcShea
TomMcShea

@-JMD- @TomMcShea If we reviewed HD upgrades when it was released, I would have given the Shadow of the Colossus / Ico pack a 10. Older games can certainly achieve our top score.

-JMD-
-JMD-

@TomMcShea @-JMD- It really is a question of opinion in the end. I played MGS4 at the time, and it was a really great game and at that time it deserved the perfect 10. But at today standards, a perfect 10 would be a little exaggerated for a 5 year old game, and i am a MGS fanboy. Damn, it passed 5 years since the MGS4 launch? Jesus, i am getting old.

TomMcShea
TomMcShea

@-JMD- Spelunky has only gotten better with age. I haven't played MGS4 recently, but I would imagine that it would still warrant a 10 if released on other systems today.

-JMD-
-JMD-

@StellOverdrive I do not agree. Story is a main factor of any game! Not the only aspect of it, but it an very important factor!

StellOverdrive
StellOverdrive

Story is incredibly overrated. If I wanted a good story I'd watch a movie or read a book. Gameplay is the single most important factor to a game.

edinko
edinko

@-JMD- @edinko @Mellowcow I did as well but since so many cutscene and story oriented games- its just a snoozefest now. Aboslutely nothing can move me emotionally anymore in this cutscenes and I am just bored and want to play the game. It was enough. Doesn't matter how expensive the script, motion capture or voice acting was. I am yawning and falling asleep out of being bored to death.ACtually at present I find old emulated ZX Spectrum or amiga games or whatever about 100000x more enjoyable that your modern standard game with a pathetic tortured exposition everytime I want to open a door and instead have to listen to 5 minutes of boring dialogue

-JMD-
-JMD-

@edinko @-JMD- @Mellowcow Not all modern story telling are as bad as you say. In the "last of us" the story is quit good and very appealing. I also like the old school games, games like Balburs Gate, Dungeon Siege, UFO - Enemy unknown are games that i steel play to this day. They do have a excellent Replayability, but weak story telling. Even if i still play them, its not the same as me saying that i have a better time with them! I have a better time with a game with a good story than one of these games! In my point of view.

edinko
edinko

@-JMD- @Mellowcow @edinko THe modern story games are getting really old now mate for me. Its all boring cutscenes and tortured exposition , hand holding, QTEs. Lame as hell. I`d take any pure gameplay retro game over that.

Mellowcow
Mellowcow

@-JMD- @edinko So all story-based games would get a ten in your book and everything else a zero? Sounds legit.

-JMD-
-JMD-

@edinko @-JMD- wow dude. That is a bold statement! Did you even played any of those two games you are talking about? Or just dont like Naughty Dog games? 

I dont like games that have crappy stories, or even none,  and games that i dont feel any simpaty to the protagonist or their cause. Playing a game like this is like a chicken just running around without a head... Its pointless. And this game still gets a better grade than "The Last of Us"? Just for gameplay? Dude.

I am a gamer, i may play all games, but not all games are equal! Some are better then others! And this game, in my opinion is not better than "The Last of Us"!

As i said, it is just my opinion, and in the end we are all gamers and we all have different opinions! :D

edinko
edinko

@-JMD- @edinko You are too blinded with modern cinematic crap with quick time events. Spelunky has more pure gameplay than all the uncharted and last of uses together

cousinmerl
cousinmerl

@TomMcShea @DinoBuster you know thinking about it minecraft had some pretty good hidden tunes too! maybe you could do a video on hidden tunes in the game worlds!

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

@komuchen @stan_boyd i thought this was originally an xbox arcade exclusive so I bought it on there when I should of got it on my laptop since I take my laptop to work with me. I work one of those boring security jobs where I sit at a desk overnight and wait for trucks to arrive so I play alot of games or chat on here to pass the time :P this game flew under my radar til the 360 version came out though.

komuchen
komuchen

@stan_boyd @komuchen What you see here is a remaster with better graphics, sound, leaderboards and whatnot. I can't blame you for being confused though, some people were by the news of this game "finally coming" to PC, but forgot to mention it is an upgrade/remaster of original

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

@komuchen @stan_boyd sooo why would anyone pay for this game, and why are they calling it a PC release when its already out on PC for free? I am so confused now, so this game is the same game that has already been out for free before this game was released?

komuchen
komuchen

@stan_boydoh my god, you are clueless. Here, check this out http://spelunkyworld.com/original.html Play it and love it

This game was released on PC first and, as I said it, has been pimped for xbox release like 3 or 4 years later. At least do your research, before stating opinion as fact like McShea

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

@komuchen @stan_boyd free spelunky? huh? this game was originally released on xbox and was not on the pc, now its being released on PC, its basically a port not a 20 year old game being given a new skin. Sorta like Fallout came out for 360 and PC first then was released on PS3 later and got its own review when it was released to PS3.

komuchen
komuchen

@Deadlysyns87 @komuchen "There are no infinite lives in DuckTales: Remastered". Also no info about difficulty settings but contradictions like "it's so boring easy it's hard".

komuchen
komuchen

@Hurvl He clearly stated not so long ago that original holds up... and at the end he said what he said. So yeah. Read.

Deadlysyns87
Deadlysyns87

@Hurvl Not to mention you can't review a game based on Nostalgia because thats a horribly Biased review if you do. And thats the only reason the other sites gave it such high scores is the nostalgia Tom was being an Unbiased reviewer and he gets hated on its really just sad. Reviews are based on comparing games of the Same year to one another. meaning Ducktales didn't Stack up to other Platformers that came out this year.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@komuchen @Deadlysyns87 Perhaps he liked the original Ducktales when it first came out? Thought about that? Not everyone enjoys every game they ever played 10+ years after they first played it.

Spelunky More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    • Xbox 360
    Spelunky is a unique platformer with randomized levels that offer a new and challenging experience each time you play.
    7.7
    Average User RatingOut of 228 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Spelunky
    Developed by:
    Derek Yu,
    Published by:
    Mossmouth, Derek Yu, Microsoft Game Studios
    Genres:
    Platformer, 2D, Roguelike, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Crude Humor, Violence