Game Reviews

Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon - Admirably fresh and inventive

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Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon - Admirably fresh and inventive

They don't make mobile games like Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon any more.

Elegant, clever, subtle, mechanically unusual, and without so much as a hint of a free to play structure, it feels pretty unique.

Which is a strange thing to say, because it looks and plays an awful lot like its predecessor, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor.

Unfaded memories

That it still feels fresh is down to two things - the last game came out six years ago, and even six years ago they didn't make games like this.

Tiger Style's sequel sees you taking control of a hungry arachnid in an abandoned old manor house. Each dusty room represents a cluttered obstacle course for our little spider to negotiate.

Fortunately, you're the apex predator of the insect world, capable of leaping large distances with a swipe of the screen, of traversing any surface by holding a direction, and (most importantly) of spinning sticky webs.

By tapping on your spider before leaping, you can drag a stretch of web behind you, hanging it between the two points. Criss-cross three or more of these lines and you'll form a web, capturing any bugs that might flitter into it.

This house is bugged

It's the varied nature of your prey that forms the heart of Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon's gameplay.

Grasshoppers need prompting to jump to their doom, while Snakeflies will actively avoid your webs. Hornets, meanwhile, need taking down directly, and there's no telling where moths and butterflies will settle.

After a while you'll encounter more aggressive creatures that prompt a more cautious approach.

The other star component of Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon is its levels.

They're packed full of hidden areas, incidental details, and enigmatic clues that can be pieced together to solve an overarching mystery that's far bigger than the game's humble cast of bugs.

There's also a neat real-world element that will take your local weather and time of day information and reflect it in the game world.

This has a real bearing on some of the levels - you'll struggle to crawl up a drainpipe if it's pouring with rain, for example.

The old ones are the best

The game's controls remain ever so slightly finicky. Our eight-legged protagonist is extremely quick and responsive, almost to a fault, and a slightly sloppy touch can often lead to a leap when a brief shuffle forward was intended.

When it works - as it often does - it's extremely empowering, but Spider's controls falter enough times to be an occasional annoyance.

Overall, though, Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon sands off many of the original's rough edges, and expands upon its premise beautifully.

It's just as weirdly compelling as its predecessor, and it will feel extremely original to all but those with memories of the early days of the App Store.

Even for them, there's still nothing else quite like Tiger Style's oddball platform-puzzler adventure. 'More of the same' has rarely felt this fresh.

Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon - Admirably fresh and inventive

A more expansive take on its six-year-old predecessor, Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon still feels admirably fresh and inventive in 2015
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.