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Spelunky 2: Spelunk Harder

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Fair enough! I think the biggest problem I have with Spelunky is awareness: is there an arrow trap just above me, etc. You really need to be dialed to do well, and for as much as you want more health during a run, there are plenty of ways to lose it all due to one mistake.
 

ThornGhost

lofi posts to relax/study to
(he/him)
Yeah! I think the awareness thing is what I ultimately like about the game, all these systems behave in very predictable ways and the information is there for you to succeed if you look for it. I'm not sure I've ever died and felt it was the game's fault or an unfair design choice, it could always trace back to me being careless or missing some critical piece of information.

Like I said upthread, things really started making sense for me when I started playing this game more like Nethack than say, Castlevania. Now I do have a lot of experience with that kind of roguelike and I understand how they tick and that maps pretty well onto Spelunky. That may make the difference. It's not a turned based thing like Nethack, but there is always a place to stop and look at what's ahead before you make your move. Look, plan, act. Look, plan, act. Skipping any part of the loop will get you in trouble.
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
(He, Him)
Look, plan, get killed by mole.

Yeah, probably more that it messes with my muscle memory speaking as someone who has played the original to death. Jetpack ain't the instawin button it used to be when it blows up any time you get near fire.

That said, Spelunky/Spelunky HD had a much more forgiving intro in its caves. I still lose half my runs to a mole, horned lizard or some combination of the two. They aren't really replacing anything that was in the original game, just a couple extra enemies on top of what was already there. Mitigated somewhat by the fact that health recovery is more plentiful, I suppose.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)
I still think Dwelling is an infinitely better opening area than Mines ever was, not least because it introduces new setpieces that help teach players good ways to handle things (approaching spikes by non-jumping methods is safe, for example)
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)
Found the temple of Anubis. I stared down a terrifying challenge and the game rewarded me for it. Hell. Yes.
 

Regulus

Sir Knightbot
I picked this up the other day and have been playing it. My stance so far: The game is more fun if you just use a shortcut to skip the Dwelling.

The moles and horned lizards just have too much health. I would set the moles to 1 health and the horned lizards to 2 (so they can be killed with a single arrow). Maybe reduce the move speed of the mole, too. They're both just so tedious to deal with compared to obstacles in the following areas.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)
I don't consider the health of those enemies to be an issue, because more often than not, I just avoid them. If you stun them somehow, that gives you more than enough time to put distance between you, either by throwing them away or just leaving. Going the extra distance to kill them is usually a waste of time and resources.

There's also some subtleties in their behaviour that makes said avoidance easier, such as moles being unable to tunnel through anything that isn't dirt and lizards not doing their roll attack at low health.
 

Regulus

Sir Knightbot
Horned lizards are generally pretty easy to avoid. In my experience, though, leaving moles alone is a bad idea because they can drop between layers.
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
(He, Him)
Tried my first daily challenge yesterday. Pissed off a shopkeeper so ended up with the ol' jetpack and shotgun standard which I figured would let me make some decent progress, but ended up using all my bombs just before quillback and accidentally blew him up too early for him to carve me a path so I was stuck. Summoned the ghost and let him chase me around for a while. That was fun.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
Made it to Tiamat yesterday, not sure how to clear the floor from there. I wish I was having more fun with this game, but I'm mostly just getting frustrated with it. The getting a hired hand to 5-1 quest was the worst.
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
(He, Him)
Ugh, stupid stupid death. Had 15 health, plenty of bombs, hired hand in tow for mama tunnel but decided against bombing my way to the door during Olmec and got squished.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)
Discoveries I've made. Significant spoilers behind that link. I don't want any hints, I am tackling this game completely blind and loving every second.

That said, this is a game where you have to embrace the philosophy of learning from your failures. It is absolutely not for those who get disheartened by setbacks.
 

Ludendorkk

(he/him)
They put out a patch tweaking Dwelling, among other things, and god it made a world of difference. Consistently getting decent runs out of there now instead of just sticking to shortcuts. Doing the questlines feels a lot more fun now that the first biome isn't such a meat grinder
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
Not sure how much constitutes spoilers but I've gotten all the way down to the temple & water zone and its driving me absolutely bananas. The previous areas are certainly brutal with an umlaut, but these areas are reaching theoretical levels of horsepocky. Much more the former with the summoners and all. All I'm saying is, the shop should really really sell antidotes. Derek, buddy, video games have had that conundrum figured out since 1985.

I will say that all the new secret stuff and backwall areas are beautiful additions. I adored the secret areas and items in spelunkey 1, and trying to puzzle out a brand new set is the best part of the experience so far.
 
They put out a patch tweaking Dwelling, among other things, and god it made a world of difference. Consistently getting decent runs out of there now instead of just sticking to shortcuts. Doing the questlines feels a lot more fun now that the first biome isn't such a meat grinder

Ooh, that's good to hear. I still really want to play this but have been concerned that I would just be frustrated.
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
(He, Him)
That said, I still spent an hour playing yesterday and made it past the dwelling once. More on my being an impatient idiot than anything else but I'd call the changes in the patch pretty subtle.
 
I did a handful of runs for the first time in a few days, and the opening area seemed noticeably easier to me. I don't actually know what changed specifically in this patch, but it felt like everything was just turned down a notch: fewer traps, fewer enemies, more open areas, more ways to move downwards, etc.
 

Ludendorkk

(he/him)
Obviously the whims of the RNG still exist, but I notice an increase in crates, better shops, fewer moles and lizards, fewer enemies in general (no more of getting 8-10 enemies in a single hallway like perpetually happened at launch), they added some more variation to 1-4, Damsels and the gold key less likely to spawn inside a wall etc. No single huge change but taken together it makes a much better curve to the biome progression than before.
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
(He, Him)
Making progress!

Made it to Tiamat once and chucked a couple of bombs at her but couldn’t really figure out what I was supposed to do. Also made it to the city of gold and that altar under a big fall designed to knock you out sure looked suspicious so I think I know what to do there. Used a shortcut to practice Olmec a few times. Figured he was guarding an Ankh and was happy to see I was right.

Getting the crown and Excalibur is pretty easy, but haven’t figured out what, if anything, I’m supposed to do with that.
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
(He, Him)
Tiamat not disappointed and credits rolled. Had like 30 health, 50 bombs, an ankh and excalibur so pretty good run. Pretty good game! Now to figure out all remaining steps to the actually beating the game. And also figure out what to do with that damn Moai head this time. And probably a dozen other secrets I’m missing.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
Tonight, I rappelled to the bottom of the well, and looked upon the stars.

Looked upon the stars.

For maybe all of 3 minutes before I realized just what I was looking at then grew white with terror.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)
I still have to unlock the last secrets of Hou Yi's Bow and the altar in the sunken city, but I've discovered everything else. Those are some hard runs, though.
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
(He, Him)
I beat Humbaba or whatever the snake bird thing is called once, much to my daughter’s delight, but haven’t dug into much of the other stuff. I’ll keep plinking away at it off and on for the next several years, I’m sure.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
I've logged about 114 hours into Spelunky 2 and I've gone about as far as I think I can go, so now's the time to get my thoughts down.



This was easily my favorite game of the past few months and I've been addicted to it since it came out. Given how 2020 was - sitting stagnating in quarantine and feeling like life is unable to move forward, this style of rougelike coupled with the game's themes was very soothing therapy. Its frustrating, its unforgiving, and everything is set up with the odds stacked against you. However with a little cool-headed resourcefulness learned overtime you can still cobble together what you need and succeed no matter the odds. Each time I got to a new milestone it was reassuring to know that failure really is a stepping stone after all. It was a very happy moment of relief when I beat the game for the first time and sat back with the lively credits theme. I can say confidently this is harder than the first game but not that much. The learning curve and associated deaths are comparable but Spelunky 2 is much more demanding of it's players' skill so that it takes longer to improve. Going back to Spelunky and playing through the mines its night and day how much more lenient it is. The improvements made to the core gameplay are so sweeping that its very hard for me to go back to the first one.


All movement has been tightened and the controls are just about perfect but it also means its very easy to go flying off a ledge if you get too panicky. The items have all been given tweaks to make the selection more viable and nerf older exploits. The shopkeepers aren't the harbingers of death they were before with the forgiveness system and their slower speed, though they are still formidable now that they can climb ladders. The backrooms are ultimately a small addition but they still add a lot of versatility in shaping a run with their occasional goodies or shortcuts. Best of all are the split routes that you can take for their own advantages and disadvantages. Players have a lot more options at their feet with which to tinker and form a strategy, and consequently even more ways to screw yourself over. This is how you make a good sequel.


I love the selection of items and all the ways you can make use of them. The climbing gloves have gone from annoying and finicky to an invaluable resource. Its probably my new favorite item after the cape, which works like it should always have now that you can hold the button down to slowly descend. The powerpack is on par with the mattock with a niche use that you can get a lot of mileage out of in specific situations. The fact that the all the packs explode along with bombs makes them harder to steal from shopkeepers but also makes fire extremly dangerous and brings the jetpack on par with the cape. The best item of all, the spring shoes, are virtually unchanged except for the green glow you get when they're equipped which honestly is very helpful in remembering that you have them. The shotgun is no longer the MVP weapon choice because of how the levels are structured, the potential of hitting the ghost pot, and the shenanigans of Neo Babylon. Mounts are a huge addition that you can make a ton of use of both alive and dead.


The enemies are much nastier than before but not in a way that I think is somehow worse than any of the tricks Spelunky 1 pulls though some are far worse than others. The enemy I hate most, more than witch doctors or summoners or scorpions, are the damn skeletons. They are everywhere, they are faster, and they are infuriating to get hit by. Everything else, I feel, has a clear telegraph and it is my fault when I get comboed to death by it. No matter how prepared you are for skeletons they can still sneak up on you. The standout addition are the moles. When the game was announced, I knew they were gonna get added and they are exactly as tricky as I expected. The standout re-vamp are the cavemen, who before were just recurring mooks but now they've been given so much more personality and mischievousness.


At first I wasn't a fan of Olmec being made into the halfway miniboss let alone comprising the entierty of World 3, but with hindsight this was a good decision. The branching path structure and length of the fight makes his placement a good fit, and being able to advance without defeating him entices you to wonder what he could be hiding. His defeat becomes a personal goal for improvement even after beating the game. Being the guardian of the ankh also just makes sense. I always thought it was weird you could just buy the thing in a shop. Tiamat feels strange as the last boss, but I suppose she's no weirder than Olmec. Its possible to beat her without any resources but it takes a lot of time and dead bodies. I love the chaos of Neo Babylon and the terror of being in the temple of anubis. The new areas are all great but I feel like the latter two that comprise World 4 could have had more backdoor secrets. As they are they are very lackluster compared to W1 & W2.


By far the best aspect of the game are the myriad secrets that are hidden away. The sequence of events that were necessary to unlock the City of Gold was Spelunky HD's claim to fame and Spelunky 2 outdoes it's predecessor in intrigue and complexity.

My favorite secret of all is the Tablet of Destiny which doesn't act like a key or valuable asset as the other secret items but simply has a puzzling message inscribed. The mysterious Ushabti room in Neo Babylon was one of the biggest mysteries of the game that left me totally baffled as to what it was for. Its a very scary room to enter because of how big the stakes are by the point and how easy it is to get crushed by elevators despite the calm atmosphere and lack of immediate dangers. Its clear what the tablet is telling you once you make the connection and its thrilling to scour the room and have that "There it is!!" moment for the first time.

Flying up and out of the caves and (apparently) outside the observable universe is just as incredible. Hell was fun, but the Sunken City is eerie. It has this oppressive atmosphere of you being someplace you're not meant to go to. I love that you have to "descend" upwards and the only enemy are the mysterious frogs that took over the empty city. Its deceptively deadly, as once you know what all the traps are its hardly as challenging as the other areas but can still kill you easily if you don't take it especially slow and attentive. I kind of admire the area for that - the previous parts of the game are far more chaotic and lively but the dangers aren't half as deadly there as here.

The game's biggest surprise is the Cosmic Ocean. I was able to intuit how to unlock the secrets of Hou Yi's Bow but I didn't know what lay behind it. I was floored, as this was just the sort of secret that you dream up with your friends. Honestly it makes me a little sad in this age of the internet because this is just the sort of thing that would have blown people away had it been discovered years later when everyone thought they had the game all figured out; yet being there since the beginning. The main game is 22 levels long - the cosmic ocean is 76 levels. Essentially an endless mode but it also flips the gameplay on it's head and throws a brand new loop at you. For one, rather than being bound by solid rock the levels are adrift in open space; falling will return you to the top as the level loops in on itself. Rather than trying to simply find the exit and unlock the game's secrets, here you need to find three orbs floating in the level and pop them to release the deadly leviathan blocking the door to advance. Perhaps that's still essentially "finding the exit" but it surprisingly changes the nature of the game completely regarding how you interact with the stage and effectively communicates this idea of being lost in space navigating from level to level. I really like this idea that you've been in the caves so long, gone through the same sets of levels, endured the same challenges and same deaths for uncounted reincarnations, entering the cosmic ocean becomes a sort of transcendence as the experiences all blend together in this quest for enlightenment.

I think the elixir is one of the game's bigger stumbles specifically because of this final area. The only reason it exists is to allow players access to Duat if they are too weak to sacrifice at the altar. It's good that the item is there to prevent status changes from being run-enders but I think it would be easy to make it automatically apply when the player is poisoned, cursed, or at 1hp instead of a consumable. That way you can bring it into the cosmic ocean and have a pseudo-Ankh that saves you from being poisoned by cobras. There are no damsels in the cosmic ocean so it would become an invaluable resource. Its baffling to me.

I like this game it was pretty fun. I wish more games had secrets that mesh so seamlessly with the game itself and incorporate themselves as part of the progression rather than being one-off eggs.
 
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Well, the game is fun, but it appears to have a pretty bad audio lag bug? Really significant and distracting, it's 1-2 seconds behind. I've restarted twice and no change. Definitely unique to Spelunky 2 and seems to only be in levels, menus seem fine.
 
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