Developer: Tiger Style
Publisher: Tiger Style
With the “system” being touted by some as the future of handheld gaming, and it’s exponentially expanding library of games, I’m still constantly left feeling like there’s far more chaff than wheat. I guess for that reason, I’m always amazed when I can wring any amount of substance from an iPhone game. What I got in Spider: Secret of Bryce Manor, however, was something far greater than anything I expected. Hit the break and we’ll get into it.
The concept of the game is simple: you’re a spider, you make webs, and eat bugs. While I didn’t think of it immediately, the gameplay reminds me of PixelJunk Eden. The controls are incredibly fluid and very responsive, which is not always the case with the iPhone. You move the spider by holding your finger where you want him to crawl, swiping your finger across the screen to make him jump, and tapping him to place a web. When you make at least a 3 sided shape from your silk, you form a web which can catch bugs. As you eat bugs, you get points and more silk. Running out of silk is the only way to die in the game, prompting a timer that you must feed before. Things get more interesting later in the game when you encounter objects that you can’t stick too, bugs that try to evade you, and some that you just have to pounce to eat. Once you are finished collecting enough bugs, a portal opens taking you to the next stage.
While the gameplay is relatively simple, Spider has one of the deepest stories I’ve encountered in a handheld. There is no narration, cut-scenes, or any other traditional story telling devices. Instead, Spider tells its story only through the details of the wonderful hand-drawn backgrounds. From pictures on the wall, to discarded letters behind the stove, the player unwittingly unravels a story they most likely didn’t see coming. I was honestly surprised by the amount of emotion such a simple game could evoke.
Beyond the story mode, Spider also has other game modes that test your web-spinning skills. While they don’t come close to matching the surprisingly story driven content of the main game, they certainly help extend the life of this little gem. The online leaderboards and Facebook integration are nice features as well.
This is one of those games that I wish everyone had the opportunity to play, not just those with an iPhone or iPod touch. For less than $3, if you own one of these devices, you owe it to yourself to pick it up.