20 March 2010

Tiger's Spider Burning Bright

I recently bought a game for my iPhone, which in itself is unusual as I don’t normally buy things from the iTunes store as I don’t like the idea of only being able to use them whilst Apple says I can. The game in question is Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor (developed by Tiger Style) and in this case a combination of the free demo Spider: Hornet Smash and the fact that Randy Smith was involved was enough to get me to part with the small amount of £1.79.

If you don’t want to read any more, I’ll say here and now that it’s a very good game and if you play games on your iPhone you should buy this one.

As I said I came to the game through the demo; Hornet Smash. The demo uses the same levels as the main game but it takes a small mechanic from the main game and expands it slightly to actually make a fairly different game. Hornet Smash is more fast paced than the main game with greater dynamism as you leap non-stop around the levels tackling as many hornets as you can before inevitably succumbing to the steadily growing number. Playing well will slow the hornets’ growth but I don’t know if it’s possible to play well enough to reach equilibrium.

In contrast, the main game only contains a few (non-multiplying) hornets and mostly plays out at a more sedate pace. The main adventure mode game is based around building webs to catch and eat enough insects in the level to open the portal to the next level. You do this by anchoring a thread to the level and then leaping to a second point to secure the thread between those points. Completely surround an empty space with threads and a web will appear between them trapping any insect that flies over it for long enough. You can anchor threads to webs, allowing you make new webs that were previously impossible. Eating insects will replenish your silk supplies and running out of silk means imminent death (there is a grace period in which to quickly eat an insect). One nice touch is that at the end of a level you are shown the complete room including your cobwebs, giving a feeling of the house gradually becoming more disused and deserted as you travel through it.

After a little practice, if you charge through the game, then the Blitzkrieg acheivement of completing it in under 30 minutes is easily achievable. But, if you do that and then leave the game you’ll have missed most of what makes it enjoyable. Rushing through the levels would mean not noticing the many details in the rooms and not finding the numerous secret areas that help to tell the story of the house you are making your way through and the family that lived there. If you find and follow all the clues there is also a secret room to find. (There is also the sealed room which is easier to find but also hidden).

There are also three other game modes, one where you try to eat as many insects as possible in 3 minutes, one where you have to eat insects regularly to avoid dieing (with the frequency increasing as you eat more), and finally a mode very similar to the main game but with your threads shortened and reduced in number which makes forward planning far more important.

According the lifetime stats the game provides I’ve played it for over 16 hours and have now completed the game, found the secret room, and completed all of the optional achievements which I found rather fun.

So overall an excellent way to spend £1.79, highly recommended.