Update from Sept. 1st:
So, I have a lot of updates to this preview that I want to follow up on, so much so I’m pretty much adding an entire addendum preview to this. Some new developments and actually some responses to the issues I mentioned in the original preview. Because of the set up at PAX and the nature of Spelunky 2 being a rogue like as it is, I learned a lot of new information.
First and foremost, I mentioned some momentum issues in my original preview. This is not an actual mechanic in the game. It seems the machine I was playing Spelunky 2 on was running poorly, or the video/controller was having issues, but when returning to play more later on at PAX West, those momentum issues weren’t present. What’s more, the developers over at Blitworks, who are the ones completely programming the game from the ground up, let me know they saw my preview and this is not an intended mechanic in the game. So the slow to stop and slow to turn mechanics were an issue with the environment, not Spelunky 2 itself. It was good to hear that had seen this original preview and specifically followed up with me letting me know I did not have to be concerned.
They also let me know Spelunky 2 has been in development for three full years. They’ve had to completely rebuild the mechanics and code for this one, meaning if things aren’t one to one with Spelunky right now, that’s okay, they’ve just played so much of this already that they can’t quite tell the difference.
I got to see all the way through the end of the demo and I even got to record footage of levels 2-1 through 2-4, the last levels of the demo, in the new world, the Volcano. The Blitworks developers, the folks that are programming all of Spelunky 2, let me know that at least for the instance of this demo, the final level of World 1, so 1-4, would also have two exits. One appears in the bottom left corner of the map that leads to “The Jungle” in Spelunky 2, so 2-1 and from there would be jungle, and the bottom right corner of the map leads to “The Volcano”, which is an alternative second world for Spelunky 2. It’s very reminiscent of the secret fifth world in the original, Hell. They let me know this may not always be the case in the final game, and more something set up for this demo, but it was cool to see that there were two completely different takes on later worlds, even if you always started in the mines.
I got to see some more specific things as well, new mechanics and the like. Specifically I got to ride on an animal, something featured in the gameplay trailer I broke down. What was cool was the turkey I ended up riding, one of the many optional mounts, wildly runs around for a few moments when you first jump on its back. This can be disconcerting, but toughening it out and staying on it for a bit will let you “tame” it, and from there it’ll move at your beck and call. While the turkey mount couldn’t climb ladders or do certain things that you can without it, it can double jump, and holding the jump button after the second jump will let you glide down as it flaps its wings.
I also got to see more of the “level layering”, where there are optional doors in levels that let you go to its back layer. These layers can get you to new parts of the stage, secret doors, and this is even where a golden chest hides in one stage on the mines, which when opened with the golden key (also found in the mines) you get a special item called the Udjat Eye. What this rare item does in this game I’m not quite sure yet, but it led to a hidden level in the first, so I expect goodies and secrets like that to be hidden too.
Basically my additional time with Spelunky 2 put all my worries aside, and I am now positive Spelunky 2 will speak to fans of the original in the same way and maybe even better than that first title. I’m so excited to play more, and I’m glad I got to spend so much time with it here at PAX West. Be excited.
I got to play Spelunky 2.
Yes, words I’ve been waiting to say basically my entire life. At least, it feels like it. I fell hard in love with Spelunky HD, or just Spelunky if you prefer, when it originally came to Xbox 360 in 2012, and I’ve honestly been playing it ever since. A sequel to this game makes a ton of sense, just as much as a sequel to Super Mario Bros. made a ton of sense. There are rich and deep mechanics, and Spelunky 2 seems to be fleshing them out and just adding more of that.
I did record a very extensive breakdown video if you’d like to watch, from what we saw of first gameplay a couple days ago. You can watch that here:
Diving into the game itself, it felt extremely familiar, which is not a bad thing. All the buttons save for one were mapped to the exact same place as the first Spelunky, and the one change is something that messed me up consistently. Playing on PS4, the run button was set to R2 here in Seplunky 2 versus R1 where it had been in all the PlayStation releases before. A minor detail, but the running is what’s most different from Spelunky.
The biggest change which effected almost everything I experience in my ten or so minutes with Spelunky 2 was the momentum added to running. While there was certainly momentum in the first game, this is a hard slide if you’re running for a couple seconds or more. You carry on like your sliding on ice, and it feels very strange. It doesn’t feel out of place, but as someone who as I’m sure many streamers, speed runners, and Spelunky players alike, ran all through the previous game from destination to destination, it made me think twice about running at all. I found I had far more control walking around and taking things much slower, like my early days in the first game.
And that was the other massive part of this demo: I died a lot. Much like early Spelunky running for me. I kind of loved flashing back to those early days of runs when I wasn’t really sure what some enemies did or what was around the corner. I saw mole-creatures burrowing through the ground. The lizard creatures show in that trailer that bowl up into a ball and charge at you were scattered all across that first level, which is much like the mines from Spelunky. Some things a couple of developers mentioned while I was playing was how levels may come out of order, something I also speculated in my trailer breakdown, which puts a huge twist on the whole format of runs themselves.
At one point I even saw a locked cage door near a shopkeeper. It was briefly shown in a screenshot Sony put out, but I’m not sure what that could lead to at all!
There was plenty familiar here too. Like I said bombs and ropes are all mapped to the same buttons, and the whip feels exactly the same, even including that small window of damage behind your head that lets you crush bats by quickly turning around and hitting them. A very specific feeling and move, and it’s carried over to the sequel. Many of the items I saw were from Spelunky as well, but they’ve had a bit of a makeover. The only ones I took the time to buy from the shopkeeper were spike boots and spring boots, which ups your jump damage and increases the height of your jump respectively.
There was a lot familiar here, but a lot new too. It’s hard to say how long adjusting to how it feels will take, but I’m glad I played it. It does not play exactly like the previous game, and that may a bit scary. I’m certainly planning on playing it more this weekend. But they’re clearly trying something new here, and I’m willing to see where they go, and put my faith in them.
Stay tuned for more Spelunky 2 thoughts, lord knows I’ll be thinking about it and talking about it until the moment it launches!