December 27, 2010

Spider: He Is Our Hero


Instead of sleeping on Christmas Eve, I instead finished playing through Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor. This is one of those iPhone games I had heard a lot about, but never picked up. Then it went on sale, and I did that picking up. I then felt stupid for waiting.

Spider is clearly one of the best games on the platform right now. The game does so many things right, I couldn’t imagine anyone not having a good time.

First and foremost, the game controls perfectly. There are so many good games that don’t know how to do the controls on the touchscreen of an iOS device, but Spider completely and utterly knows the score. Never are you making a move you don’t mean. You are constantly in control. You swipe to jump in a direction, hold to walk towards where you’re holding, and tap the Spider to anchor your silk. It simply works. It’s great. Plus, the jump is incredibly satisfying. You feel like a total badass, leaping around the levels.

Basically, you have a limited amount of silk, that’s recharged from eating bugs. Making any polygon out of web strands creates web that traps most bugs. Some just hover in a place, some move around in a pattern, and some can be manipulated by jumping around or interacting with the environment. For example, there are several levels where you can activate light bulbs to attract moths. It’s really simple gameplay, but the game uses it so well. You’re always in places that make you have to rethink your strategies, and they slowly dole out the more complex bugs as you go along, so you’re always learning how to deal with new ones. It works really well.

Other than the gameplay, the game does a fantastic job of making itself atmospheric. You’re just a Spider, sure, but you, as the player, are using this spider to search Bryce Manor. There’s all kinds of photographs and secrets you can find in order to help you kind of sleuth out who lived in this place and what happened to them. While the ultimate fate of such was not surprising to me in the least, the feel of the space I was in still won me over, overall. The art was very distinctive, and felt like a real place, for the most part. (Sometimes, the game will put things in the background to make you have more web-slinging challenge, which is a bit game-y, but that didn’t really detract for me.)

I got it on sale for a dollar, but I totally would have been happy with the $2.99 it normally goes for. If you play games on your iDevice at all, you really should pick it up and play it. The story mode won’t take you all that long, though it is broken up into easily-digestible levels to make it perfect to pick up and play for a minute or two. Still, those levels are fantastic, and there are many challenge modes I haven’t tried, if you want to go in and attempt to get every bit of value out of your purchase. It’s a great game, and probably the most wonderful surprise I’ve gotten in my iPod gaming since Hook Champ. Go get it.

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