Bottom line: Spelunky 2 builds on what made the original game such a classic and improves upon it in a variety of ways. It's still a challenging experience, but one that fans of the genre will love almost immediately.
- Simple controls
- Challenging but rewarding gameplay
- Art and music design are great
- Online modes are fairly barebones
- Not a ton of new enemies or encounters
When the original Spelunky launched in 2008, it quickly became a massive hit. The game's challenging but rewarding style and incredibly fun and addicting gameplay won over fans of platformers, and it's roguelike premise made sure it kept everybody playing. More than a decade later, developers Mossmouth have returned with a sequel, giving fans the chance to dive back into randomized caverns in search of treasure and adventure.
While some fans may have been worried that a sequel to Spelunky couldn't live up to the original, Mossmouth succeeded in delivering an improved product that exceeds expectations. Spelunky 2 offers an incredible platforming with tight and solid gameplay, and while it is a challenge, the rewards will keep players coming back time and time again.
What you'll love about Spelunky 2
While Spelunky 2 won't be known for its narrative, the game does offer up an adventure mode for players, putting them in the shoes of Ana as she seeks out her parents who have once again gone exploring in a magical cave, this time in outer space. At face value, Spelunky 2 may look like a simple and cute game where you explore various levels in search of treasure. Once you dive in, though, you're met with a challenging experience that rewards players who sit back and try to understand the many concepts on display.
|Players||Single-Player, Local/Online Multiplayer|
|Platforms||PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows|
For those unaware, Spelunky 2 is a roguelike, meaning that after each death, you have to restart the level. It also means the level is randomized, so no two levels in Spelunky 2 are alike. You'll be jumping into a brand new experience each time. This can prove to be a bit challenging at first — it can be frustrating finally learning the layout of a level only to die and have it reset. However, the great thing about Spelunky 2 is how it rewards players for taking their time and learning many fo the small intricacies the game has.
Newcomers to Spelunky will notice right off the bat that this operates unlike other platformers. While your initial instinct may be to rush through a level to beat it, the game punishes you early and often for being too careless in your actions. Instead, Spelunky 2 attempts to teach the player to carefully look over an area, plan out moves, and then proceed with caution. Traps, random enemies, and even ghostly spirits all await to try and take you down, so you'll need to be as careful as possible once you begin your adventure.
While the idea of dying over and over again and carefully progressing through levels may not sound appealing, things open up once you finally get the hang of it. Controls are incredibly precise and responsive, so you'll be able to move around swiftly and without any problems once you learn more. Likewise, as you begin to recognize traps and other items across each level, you'll be able to clear levels much faster.
It's a big gamble on the part of Mossmouth to keep the game as difficult as the first was, especially with a much bigger audience ready to play the sequel. However, the result is just as great as the first one. Spelunky 2's rewarding gameplay makes you want to keep diving into levels to get better with each run. During my time with the game, I was downright awful to start, but by the time I put a couple of hours in, I was much more in tune with how to maneuver through levels, where to place strategic bombs, and how to approach certain enemies. This speaks to just how great of a job Mossmouth has done when it comes to crafting a game that's worth dying so many times in.
Big improvements in every way
While much of Spelunky 2 builds off of the success of the first game, the sequel does offer a ton of big improvements, including more variety in how you'll be able to make your way through each level. Unlike the first game, which offered a more linear path through caves and dangerous areas, Spelunky 2 gives players more of a choice, allowing them to exit stages through multiple areas that will lead them into other caverns. For example, once you make it out of the game's opening area, you'll be able to move to either a jungle based set of levels, or into the Volcano, Spelunky 2's new area that's filled fiery traps, explosive enemies, and doom.
Tinier tweaks to other aspects of Spelunky 2 make the game a bit more advanced and easier than its predecessor as well. Health often comes at a premium in games like Spelunky 2, so the ability to take out turkeys (which normally act as mounts) for cooked meat that heals you is a huge addition, even though it does require using materials and taking out a useful ally. Similar to the first game, item shops are back, allowing players to pick up special items like guns, pickaxes to dig with, or bombs to help clear out enemies. There's not too much in the way of new items, but there's more than enough in the game to make sure you never have to use the same thing over and over again.
One of the biggest changes in Spelunky 2 comes in the form of dynamic fluids found in the levels. Instead of water fading away once it's unleashed, it will now flow into whatever it comes into contact with. The new fluid dynamics also work with lava too, which means that a misplaced bomb next to a pool of lava will turn whatever level you're currently on into a much more difficult one, complete with flowing lava that kills you very quickly. Mounts have also been added to the game, allowing you to jump onto the backs of turkeys for some quick and speedy movement around a level. They're often a bit more chaotic than you'd like them to be, so using them should be only be done if you're in extreme danger.
Spelunky 2 also offers a handful of other game modes, including a daily challenge mode that gives you one chance to run through a level for the opportunity to climb online leaderboards. It's a fun mode that presents a legitimate challenge and will test your skills, but the leaderboards themselves are a bit barebones and don't offer much other than the ability to see how worse or better you are than someone else for that given day. Also new to the game are seeded runs. Players who have unlocked new characters can run through specific levels that are laid out in various ways.
What you might not love about Spelunky 2
Alongside some in-game changes, Spelunky 2 also brings with it co-op play, this time in the form of online play. Unfortunately, the online co-op didn't run smoothly in my tests, leading to some stuttering and laggy moments during runs. Thankfully, this seems like something can get fixed pretty easy, but was frustrating to experience, especially in a game that requires precise movement and planning before going through a level.
Online play also brings back the competitive modes fans loved from the original in the form Deathmatch. It also introduces a new game mode called Hold the Idol. Both modes are incredibly fun to play, but were inexplicably not available online, meaning you'll only be able to play these two modes with friends locally, It's an odd decision, especially in a game that was proud to bring online play to it. Hopefully both modes will get introduced to online play in the future, but it's disappointing to see at the moment.
Of course, the biggest thing players may not like about Spelunky 2 is one of its biggest draws. The game is incredibly difficult if you're new to the genre, and although it is extremely rewarding and fun once you get the hang of it, there are many who simply don't want to invest that kind of time into a game like this. For those people, the barrier of entry for Spelunky 2 may just be too high.
Should you buy Spelunky 2?
After delivering one of the premier roguelike platformers in the form of Spelunky, introducing a sequel can be a very scary thing. Luckily, Mossmouth succeeded, and once again created a roguelike platformer that may go down as one of the best to ever grace the genre. Even if you're not a fan of games like this, you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't at least give Spelunky 2 a chance.
4 out of 5
Although it isn't perfect and has some kinks to work out, Spelunky 2's challenging yet rewarding gameplay, along with major improvements to the sequel make this a must buy for any fans of the genre or anyone looking to dip their toes into a tougher experience.
Spelunky 2 retails for $20 and is now available on PS4 and Microsoft Windows.
Find the treasure
Time to explore.
Spelunky 2 is the follow-up to the 2008 roguelike classic, and gives fans of the series an improved game in a variety of ways. For fans of the genre, this is a must buy, and something you won't regret playing.
Anthony Nash has been writing about games and the gaming industry for nearly a decade. When he’s not writing about games, he’s usually playing them. You can find him on Twitter talking about games or sports at @_anthonynash.
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