The Spelunky Remake Will Torment Your Soul In Oddly Addicting Fashion [REVIEW]

Get our thoughts on the PC debut of Mossmouth's Spelunky remake, an enhanced version of the hit freeware game released back in 2009, and find out whether or not we recommend picking up a copy of Derek Yu's 2D cave exploration adventure. (Hint: We do.) (PH
Get our thoughts on the PC debut of Mossmouth's Spelunky remake, an enhanced version of the hit freeware game released back in 2009, and find out whether or not we recommend picking up a copy of Derek Yu's 2D cave exploration adventure. (Hint: We do.) (PHOTO: Mossmouth)

It's been four years since Spelunky Classic reached version 1.0, and thirteen months since the ultra-popular freeware title made the jump to Xbox Live, giving thousands of gamers an opportunity to experience an enhanced version of Derek Yu's creation on an entirely new platform.

Now, the Spelunky remake has made the jump to Steam, and stands ready to send an entirely new generation of PC gamers cursing their way into the depths of a constantly-changing cave. Soon, the game will make the jump to PSN too; bringing Spelunky to both the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita game consoles on August 26.

Fifteen dollars can buy a cost-conscious consumer quite a bit these days though, even with the Steam Summer Getaway Sale now nothing more than a distant memory. With equally-priced competition like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger or waiting in the wings - not to mention major August releases like Saints Row 4 and Madden 25 -- and hundreds of games available for just a couple of dollars (or free) around the web, should gamers spend their hard-earned cash on Mossmouth's Spelunky remake?

Spelunky Review

Newcomers will be happy to know that, although the game doesn't feature a particularly long list of abilities, Spelunky does give you an opportunity to dip your toes into the water before diving into the metaphorical pool. Four of the easiest stages you'll ever encounter while playing Spelunky serve as the game's training grounds, offering brief explanations of how to use bombs, grappling hooks and the basics of traversing each cave.

After that brief tutorial, it's off to the races, and it's from this point that Spelunky players can pretty much always assume that the odds of survival are heavily tipped in the cave's favor, at least during the vast majority of your attempts at beating Spelunky. You'll have a variety of tools at your disposal along the way, everything from grappling hooks to teleportation devices and jetpacks, but even these aides will rarely do more than postpone your demise by an extra minute or two.

In Spelunky, you have two goals: defeat the final boss that lies at the end of level 4-4, and acquire as much gold as you can during your trip to the bottom. Along the way, you'll also have an opportunity to rescue Damsels (for extra life), discover secret worlds and attempt to recover valuable relics guarded by a variety of life-threatening traps.

Levels are generated procedurally, guaranteeing that you'll never see (or at least recognize) the same cave layout twice, unless of course you're taking part in one of Spelunky's Daily Challenges. Still, even knowing that each stage you encounter was created at random in the moments just before you begin exploring, you'll soon be convinced that Spelunky was secretly created to ruin the day of any/all who encounter it. It's rare that a game can mesh equally fun and infuriating game play, making the particular combination offered by Spelunky an addicting offering that easily matches previous 2013 indie darlings like FTL or Binding of Isaac.

Those who might have taken offense with the game's use of a Damsel-for-Health system, which rewards the hero with life-bestowing kisses for literally carrying said damsels to safety, will be happy to know Spelunky allows you to toggle change the gender/species of the being(s) you'll be rescuing. You can even set the game to randomly assign a male, female or pug "damsel" on each level if you'd prefer.

In total, four environments serve as the primary backdrop of Spelunky, though additional worlds like Hell and the City of Gold await the most dedicated explorers. In fact, I was still encountering new content long after I'd launched my two hundredth attempt at conquring Spelunky - a feat whih I've still yet to accomplish as of this writing. A few days ago, I died in front of the 4-3 exit.

Thankfully, if you get tired of trying to top your own Spelunky endeavors, the game also features a Daily Challenge mode which pits you against all of the other Spelunky players around the world. Every 24 hours, Spelunky players are given one shot at a new cave configuration, with leaderboards wealth accumulation of each adventurer who braves that day's cave.

Spelunky Review - Final Verdict

In a year which has already seen a number of absolutely stellar indie releases captivate the hearts and minds of gamers around the globe, Spelunky still manages to distinguish itself as one of the top releases of 2013, and can easily compete with some of its big-budget counterparts when it comes to fun and replayability. Though downright abusive at times, Spelunky is easily one of the most addicting games I've played in quite some time, and its not hard to imagine the game finding a significant audience among the same PC crowd that's been devouring rogue-likes as if they were candy in recent months.

Of course, Spelunky isn't entirely flawless. While many will be thrilled to hear that the Spelunky remake features gamepad support, a feature noticeably (and understandably) absent from Spelunky Classic, several players have reported input-related issues that can make the game even more frustrating than it was intended to be. Thankfully, the folks at Mossmouth have already acknowledged some of the game's (relatively few/minor) shortcomings, and are currently hard at work on a patch that should address some of the problems that have arisen.

If you enjoyed The Binding of Isaac, particularly those of you who've clocked 100+ hours on Edmund McMillen's depraved rogue-like, then shelling out the $15 necessary for a copy of Spelunky is the definition of a no-brainer. In fact, I'd go so far as to recommend Spelunky to anyone who enjoys 2D action adventures, rogue-likes or any game that's so difficult it occasionally makes you want to throw your keyboard or controller across the room.

Spelunky may feel abusive at times, but I suspect many of you will have the same time putting down the controller and walking away from the that I've had since playing Spelunky for the first time.

Score - 4/5

Were you one of the thousands of fans, anxiously awaiting Spelunky's return to PC, ever since the cave-diving platformer made the jump to Xbox Live last year? Already played the Steam port of Mossmouth's enhanced Spelunky release, and disagree with our assessment of the latest 2D rogue-like to hit the Steam marketplace?

Let us know in the comments section!

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