Spelunky 2 Feedback
- Hi everyone, I'm JakeTreester. I have been part of the spelunky community for 6 years, and I have over 2500 hours in Spelunky HD, and now over 150 hours in Spelunky 2. I loved Spelunky HD, but I currently don't hold the same love for Spelunky 2. There are several key differences that created a pretty massive rift between the games. In this post, I will compile all of my thoughts and feedback from playing the game this past month.
- 1. The time and the ghost
- In Spelunky HD, the ghost came after 2:30, this has been extended in Spelunky 2 to 3:00. Although the 30 second increase is helpful, this is not enough to make up for how difficult the ghost is to deal with in Spelunky 2. If the player was still playing the level after the 2:30 point in Spelunky HD, a slow approaching ghost would serve as a message to leave the level and that time was up. This ghost allowed the player to finish their current mission, then leave the level and move on. If the player was skilled enough, they could use the ghost to turn gems into diamonds for extra money, or simply evade the ghost long enough to finish exploring the level fully. In Spelunky 2, none of this is possible. As soon as the 3 minute mark hits, or the ghost pot is destroyed, the ghost comes at the player very quickly, forcing the player to evacuate immediately. Furthermore, the ghost pot calls the ghost no matter the timer, and this ghost pot can be destroyed through no action of the player, adding an element of rng that can be run ending simply because the ghost pot breaks from a starting explosion on the level and the player now has to rush a level without clearing anything first. This happens often enough to be a deterrent from playing the game. Another problem with the timer/ghost is that there is no extension on dark levels or voice echoes levels, and those levels naturally take longer to clear. All of this culminates in the player feel rushed throughout the game, which is opposite the spirit of this game being about exploration. If the top level speedrunners are struggling this hard with the ghost and doing everything a level calls for on a level, how is a new player or intermediate player supposed to handle that pressure?
- 2. The shopkeepers/shop system
- Spelunky 2 feels way more like a grind 1-2 shops type of game than Spelunky HD. In Spelunky HD, the player can still have a good run based on not such a good 1-2 shop if they find a good black market. However, the fundamental design philosophy behind shops in Spelunky 2 makes this game much more 1-2 shop dependent. First, there is too much incentive to reset for a 1-2 shop because of the forgiveness mechanic. If a player robs the 1-2 shop and does not kill the shopkeeper, then successfully avoids the 1-3 exit shopkeeper by not harming/killing them, the player is forgiven on 1-4 every time. This forgiveness is too lenient, and it makes the player question why they would start a run with a bad 1-2 shop if the items come consequence free if you make it to 1-4. Second, items exploding is not a fun addition to the game. This mechanic seems contradictory of robbing shops. This exploding mechanic's issues are exaggerated in the black market. The player has 2 choices. 1. Rob the black market and have most of the items and bombs destroyed by explosions. 2. Spend lots of time collecting tons of money throughout the run and buy everything you want in the black market. Option 1 is contradictory. Why would the player take the risk of robbing the black market and most likely have permanent aggro if they don't even get the items in the shops? The second option is both boring and problematic because of the first major issue in the game, the ghost. I don't like that the game is incentivizing the use of the much more difficult ghost, forcing the player to play the game very slowly from the beginning if they want to collect items in the black market without aggro. At least in Spelunky HD the player was earning the reward of robbing the black market, and could make a reasonable decision to do so if the items offered served as enough reward for the risk of robbing a black market. In Spelunky 2 the player does not receive that reward, and now has the consequence of permanent aggro with not many items to show for that risk. This whole system incentivizes the wrong things in my opinion, and forces a lot more runs based on good 1-2 shops and good crates, increasing both the rng and the amount of time the player takes to get a run going out of the dwelling.
- 3. The skips
- The sunken city route is a great challenge, with many throwbacks to the previous games. However, it is currently possible to reach the sunken city while ignoring every step of the intended path by using the jetpack or the teleporter. Furthermore, it is possible to skip one or more of the intermediate steps. In Spelunky HD, it was only possible to skip the udjat eye on the hell route, every other item was necessary to continue on that hard ending. In Spelunky 2, none of the items are necessary, making the game feel untested and riddled with holes. The player can skip the ankh by going through the tide pool path and using several bombs and ropes to escape the lava trap on 4-3 unharmed. The crown/hedjet is skippable once again by going on the tide pool path, since the player can open Kingu's shell with bombs, then whip Kingu after the shell has been opened. Excalibur can be skipped for the same reason as the hedjet/crown. The tablet of destiny can be skipped if the player makes a correct 1/100 guess about the correct ushabti (this is way less of a concern, but it is possible and brings about problems on the daily challenge where players share the correct ushabti and others can have inordinate advantage). The player can skip Qilin altogether if they have a jetpack or teleporter to reach the sunken city entrance. All of these skips remove the challenge of the sunken city path, and lessens the story being told by the game. There was a previous patch where the ankh/lava/death skip on 4-3 was made harder, but it was not removed entirely. I am not sure if this points to the devs wanting to remove this skip or just make it harder, but I would hope they want it removed.
- In my opinion, the player should need to use Excalibur for Kingu, be forced to use the ankh on 4-3, be forced to have the table for Qilin to hatch, and be forced to have Qilin to gain access to the door above Tiamat's throne. From playing the game, this is what feels intended, but there are so many loopholes that I don't know what to think anymore. In Spelunky HD, there was a specific set of actions the player needed to take to progress on the Hell route, so it felt like true progression. In Spelunky 2, some players follows these steps, and others ignore them all and simply take the one item they need to get to the sunken city.
- 4. The branching paths
- The branching paths are a great way to add variety to the game, or at least they could have been. Currently, there is no incentive to go to the jungle unless the player wants to rob or buy things from the black market, or get paste from a giant spider. The volcano is just so much easier than the jungle, there is no comparison. Furthermore, the crown is so much easier to get than the hedjet. In this same vein, there is almost no incentive to go on the temple/duat path instead of the tide pool/abzu path. The temple is much more dangerous than tide pool, and Duat is much, much, much, harder than Abzu. Abzu consists of swinging the sword 21 times, Duat consists of a tower climb followed by a difficult boss fight. And you lose your jetpack/cape/vlad's cape when going on the Duat route unless you give that item to Waddler. The difficulty differences for very little extra pay off removes all incentive to ever go on the jungle --> temple --> duat route. This could be a product of the devs wanting the player to have a different experience in Spelunky 2 than in Spelunky HD, but then why even give the player the choice to go to those areas? As a throwback? This game has a pretty consistent flaw, the lack of reward for the amount of risk the player takes in a run.
- These 4 problems are a product of some fundamental design choices I do not understand. In Spelunky HD there were random moments where the game screwed the player and it was very difficult to salvage the run. There were also off screen arrow traps, off screen crush traps, and a couple of other unfair situations, but Spelunky 2 has these situations by default. In other roguelikes, in for example Slay the Spire, a run is lost based on the culmination of incorrect decisions a player makes. Lots of little mistakes lead to the player's downfall, and there is almost always something to learn from a loss. This is not the case in Spelunky 2. Often enough, there is no point in having more than 1hp. Especially in later parts of the game, one hit typically sends you into a death by chain of events. And most of those single hits are not teachable situations. There is nothing to be learned from being hit by something off screen, or from the ghost pot being destroyed immediately and having to rush through a level because the ghost is on you from the start. There is nothing to be learned from a spark trap spawning inside the player and killing them. There is nothing to learn from your eggplant child whipping a UFO at the start of 6-3 and killing itself. There is nothing to be learned from being sniped by a Lamassu on a dark 6-2 and being sent under an elevator. These situations are just some of the examples of recurring scenarios the game creates that cause the player to lose through no fault of their own. It is very frustrating to lose a run after 30 minutes to something that you could have done nothing to prevent. It feels like the game wasted the player's time. Why even bother setting up and playing a 1 hour+ run if the run will most likely be lost this way? I understand that Spelunky 2 is an rng game, but a rogulike's rng is supposed to be mitigated by the player's skill, and Spelunky 2 does not feel this way at all. It feel that no matter the skill of the player, there are going to be random deaths that the player can do nothing to prevent. I do not want all difficulty removed if the player gets insanely lucky with items/resources, but there must be a middle ground somewhere.
- I will continue to play the game, but if the game keeps these problems and design choices after being patched, I will certainly not reach 2500 hours in Spelunky 2.
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