Arachnids have never been embraced by modern society. With their multitude of legs and their mysterious nature, they create a healthy dose of fear in many unlucky enough to inadvertently cross their paths. Deadly Creatures does little to alleviate the inherent creepiness these critters carry with them. You'll alternate control between a scorpion and a tarantula, but there aren't any cartoon nods to make these creatures more endearing; these are realistic depictions of the terrifying creatures that have long haunted children's nightmares. Despite its vile protagonists, Deadly Creatures is an interesting and strangely satisfying adventure. As you travel through dank caves below the arid desert land, you won't find yourself growing any closer to these scream-inducers, but the twisted combat and utterly bizarre situations you'll find yourself in make this an engaging game.
The story is every bit as unorthodox as the two main characters. As you travel around a bevy of uninviting, poorly lit locales, you'll hear bits and pieces of conversations between two prospectors in search of buried treasure. These gold diggers are the only two humans in the game, and while they don't carry a particularly enticing backstory, they do add a little personality to these otherwise sterile environments. Billy Bob Thornton and Dennis Hopper lend their voice talents, and they do a good job of adding some comedic hijinks to the adventure. The biggest problem is how small their role is and how it seems to tie in only loosely to the insects' objective. You'll go through most of the game without any overall goal, and when you come to the chilly conclusion, it's unclear what the point of your adventure actually was.
The game is broken up into 10 chapters. The environments don't change much through your journey--you're stuck in the desert throughout--but there is still some variety thrown in. The arachnids are usually in dusty crawl spaces populated by angry insects desperate to defend their turf, but you'll also find yourself inside a dingy gas station, a beat-up car, and a terrifying spider's nest. The environments are fairly linear, and you're carefully shepherded from one checkpoint to another, but there are some branching paths that hide succulent grubs or health-raising grasshoppers. As a scorpion, your movement is restricted; you can walk up walls but nothing more outrageous. The tarantula is much more agile. He too can climb up walls, but can also walk across ceilings. The tarantula can also leap over small obstacles and sling his web to grab onto objects far out of reach. You can call up an arrow to guide you in the right direction whenever you get lost, which is a huge help, given that it can be difficult to keep your bearings as you crawl around twisting 3D environments.
Deadly Creatures offers an even mix of navigation and combat. Although your battle moves are slightly more over the top than what you'd expect from real arachnids, they seem close enough to reality that they wouldn't feel out of place in a particularly aggressive nature video. As a scorpion, you can swipe at enemies with your pinching claws, poison them with your stinger, and dash out of the way to avoid a collision. If you flip the Wii Remote upside down, you can burrow underground and let loose a surprise attack to some unaware creature. If you do enough damage, you can perform an elaborate finishing move, which usually ends with a tail strike to some sensitive part of your enemy's anatomy. There's a mix of traditional and motion controls, and though pulling off elaborate motions in battle can be a little tricky, the controls do a good job of making you feel like you're in the heart of these miniature battles.
As a spider, fights are based more on your mobility than your sheer strength. You can leap around the battleground, and you'll have to frequently hop around until your enemies open themselves up for attack. You can stun your foes with web shots as well, which makes long-distance battles intense. You'll fight you way through an array of hideous creatures, including jumping spiders, praying mantises, and rats, and every enemy requires you to use a different technique to achieve victory. There are also some surprisingly epic boss fights. A spider wouldn't be able to dispatch a rattle snake in solo combat, so instead of trying to kill the giant reptile, you have to survive long enough to escape. There are only a few major conflicts in the game, but they are the highlights of your journey, placing an emphasis on your survival rather than on your opponent's death. It's disappointing that there aren't more boss fights, though, because the events of the journey have a tendency to bleed together, and the big encounters create more memorable moments.
The visuals in Deadly Creatures are as detailed as they can be without becoming gross. The arachnids are creepily animated; their repulsive little legs move realistically enough to give you a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. The sound effects are equally authentic, capturing the scurrying shuffle of the insects' feet rushing across the dirty ground. The realistic depiction of these creatures adds a lot to the experience, giving weight to their plight through these abandoned caves. Your enemies will scream in battle, making fights intense and nerve-racking. Deadly Creatures always keeps you focused on the protagonists, fully immersing you in this microscopic world filled with hideous creatures.
There is nothing like Deadly Creatures. The stars of this game are completely vile, and there is nothing done to make them the slightest bit endearing. However, despite presenting an unsettling world, this well-made game provides plenty of hair-raising moments and memorable duels. If there were a few more boss battles and more emphasis placed on the outlandish story, this could have been something truly special. Even though the adventure is a little abrupt, the originality of this journey makes it worth experiencing.