Spelunky by Derek Yu is a 2D side-scrolling roguelike with an emphasis on exploration. You may already be familiar with the more recent Steam, XBLA, and PSN releases of Spelunky, but it originally started as a small, pixel art freeware endeavor made with GameMaker.
For the uninitiated, Spelunky is a game about an eponymous spelunker searching for treasure deep in the earth.
Naturally it is no calm jaunt to the depths of the world, and the journey will be met with snakes, spiders, forgotten cavemen, ancient civilizations, and the horrific, terrible shopkeepers that populate the abyss. Your job is to dodge all of the traps, tricks and creatures that assail you.
The caves themselves are randomized with each playthrough. No two games will be the same and the obstacles you encounter in one session may be a cakewalk compared to the next.
The magic of Spelunky lies in inventory and resource management. As you play, you may find your methods actively evolving from a dependency on bombs and ropes to make your way around, to a much more methodical and holistic approach. As no item is assured in any one run, you learn to be more flexible as a player. The game itself is a great measuring stick for the adaptability of an average player.
Of course, as this all implies, Spelunky can be brutally difficult. Casual players may want to avoid the frustration of frequent, punishing deaths as the novelty of the game will do everything it can to take advantage of and surprise you.
So much of the game is built around familiarity with what to expect and the less patient may find that the game is just not worth the time to learn. Those that stick with it will find a great many layers of secrets and challenges that can be very rewarding once overcome.
As a pure gaming experience Spelunky is destined to be a classic. Spelunky is one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences out there, and this free version is an absolute must-play.
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