Spider 2 — A Tiny Spider, a Massive Mansion & a Secret Society
You’re once again set in the role of a hungry little spider, but this time instead of merely wandering around a single manor, you’ll have a massive mansion and its connected grounds and other structures to explore. The core mechanics are the same as in the previous game. Create shapes using your limited strands of web to trap insects and eat them. There are considerably more types of insects in this game when compared to the last, and you’ll have to use some new tricks if you want to get the best of them.
Some larger insects can only be captured in a huge web. Certain others will try to attack you, forcing you to dodge and counter when they’re vulnerable. There are a couple of ill-mannered sorts who will go around cutting your webs, and some that you have to sneak up on before you pounce. Eat enough insects and a portal will open that finishes the level and opens up the next stage.
The stages are grouped by location, and each location features a mystery to solve. Until you figure it out, the next set of stages will remain locked. Solving each location’s mystery can be pretty tough until you’ve gathered all the clues, which are scattered throughout the stages. Even with the clues in hand, you’ll have to do a little bit of thinking to figure things out. There’s one more element that mixes things up as well.
Spider: Rite Of The Shrouded Moon has the option to use your location to check a few things. Specifically, it wants to know whether it’s day or night, and whether it’s raining or not. It also keeps track of the phase of the moon. The insects inhabiting each level change according to these factors, and certain clues and entire mysteries can only be solved at certain times, in certain weather, and in specific moon phases. It’s pretty cool to see the in-game environment match your own, and really pulls you into the game. For those who don’t want to use their location or whose schedule can’t accommodate this real-time check, the game allows you to simply set things the way you like before entering a stage.
This means you have lots of reasons to go back to each stage, since you’ll find new things under each set of conditions. You’ll need to comb through with great care, as the levels are considerably bigger this time around. Unlike the first game where the entirety of a level took place on a single board, in this game’s levels you’ll come across arrows that take you to new areas or new points of view. There are also switches hidden around, as in the first game, that you’ll need to trip to open up new boards. The vastness of some of the levels is a sight to behold, especially as you start to piece together the relative positions of each of the boards to one another. It can make the hunt for clues a bit daunting, however. You’ll need to cover a lot of ground very carefully, and that’s setting aside the matter of staying alive.
There was very little risk of dying in the first game, but things have changed a bit this time around. There are more aggressive insects that will take a bite out of your silk count, lots of bugs that will break your precious webs, and even some hazards that will take you ever closer to starvation each time you trip them. While it may seem at odds with the exploratory nature of the game, it adds an extra layer of challenge to have to mind that side of the shop. It helps to keep you on your toes and spices up some of your repeat trips to stages. You will learn to hate the scorpion fly, who is always messing up your plans.
Of course, if you’re just clue-hunting and puzzle-solving, you’re more than welcome to just skip through the level looking for things, then filling the minimum quota for the portal to appear to finish things off. It’s recommended to do this on your first trip through the game, since killing and eating everything is more for points than anything else. Ranking high on the leaderboards is fun and all, but it’s probably better to get everything unlocked first.
One of the biggest ways this sequel builds on its predecessor is in the presentation. While the first game doesn’t look bad at all, it did occasionally have a rough look to certain elements, with the webs in particular not looking very realistic. In Shrouded Moon, the webs look utterly fantastic. They bounce and stretch the way webs should, and unusual shapes look a lot better than they did in the last game. The weather and lighting effects are also quite striking. The rain looks great, lightning illuminates things with a wonderful flash, and even on clear nights the soft light of candles and other light sources contributes greatly to the game’s mysterious atmosphere. The game also plays with camera angles and zoom a lot more than the first game did.
The gameplay mechanics have probably seen the fewest changes. The controls work similarly to those of the first game. You can do a little bit more maneuvering in mid-air if you time things just right, but for the most part you’ll be tapping and swiping to get around. One new control set-up you’ll have to get used to is in the new overhead segments. You have full 360 degree movement in these sections, simply by dragging your finger around on the screen. Your jump, which is more of an attacking tackle, is performed with a quick swipe. While the overhead bits are missing a lot of the web-slinging charm of the side-view boards, they’re used infrequently enough that they end up providing a little variety here and there while you’re working your way through the game. They’re also very good for providing a dramatic viewpoint of certain scenes, like the mausoleum contained within the property.
Catching and eating bugs is still extremely satisfying, too. Even more so with the greater variety of prey. The game keeps track of all of the bugs you’ve successfully eaten so far, and trying to catch them all makes for a fun side goal. Learning their behaviors and quirks is interesting, and figuring out when and where certain special ones will appear can be quite fun, too. Actually filling out the full list takes a lot of patience and a careful eye, and it may indeed be the last thing a player completes in the game. Insects aren’t the only things you’ll be adding to your collection, either.
Each time you solve one of the game’s main mysteries, you’ll also unlock a new playable spider. You can switch spiders between stages whenever you like. They play identically, only differing cosmetically, but it’s still a cool feature. You can also look forward to a large list of achievements, some of which have very interesting conditions that ask you to play outside of what your regular style might allow for. This adds yet another layer to the game, and may even result in learning a few handy tricks to use in pursuit of other goals.
In the end, Tiger Style knew what it was doing with this sequel. The team seemed to be quite aware of which parts of the first game worked, and which areas had room for improvement and expansion. The excellent features of the original Spider are preserved here, particularly the core gameplay mechanics that made that game stand out in the first place. Those mechanics have been used as a jumping off point to create a considerably more complex gaming experience, with more satisfying and well-integrated puzzle gameplay, higher challenge, and larger levels than those in the first. While you’re working with a similar bag of tricks, the game asks you to use them in new, interesting ways.
The presentation is gorgeous, which enhances the odd atmosphere greatly. Spider: Rite Of The Shrouded Moon also makes use of rarely-seen features of the platform to add to the gameplay experience, and it packs in a lot of optional side content to explore if you want a break from the main adventure. It’s an excellent game, a cool experience, and a must-play for action-adventure aficionados and aspiring arachnids alike.