Generally, losing in a game is not ideal. But sometimes a game comes along that prioritizes a fun time, whether one wins or loses. SpiderHeckdelivers that exact experience. Swinging around a 2D stage above a pit of lava, players control spiders duking it out with each other while trying not to fall to their doom. It’s a game that’s easy to learn and difficult to master, offering genuine strategy for those who wish to learn the game and a good laugh for people who want to cause spider mayhem. Oh, and these spiders can wield laser swords.
Game Name: SpiderHeck Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC Publisher: tinyBuild Developer: Neverjam Release Date: September 22nd, 2022 Price: $14.99
Booting up SpiderHeck, the menu itself diegetically serves as part of the game. Meaning if you want to select a game mode, you have to swing over to it as your spider. It’s an unconventional choice. Then again, SpiderHeck is an unconventional game. But it serves a purpose, onboarding players into the game. This framework ensures that everyone knows how to play before a round starts. As such, the menu lobby exists as a tutorial and a practice round, as do the individual lobbies for each game mode.
There’s Quick Game, which is exactly what it sounds like. This allows players to jump into one of the other modes quickly. There’s Versus Battle, for fighting other players. You can play this one offline and online, with the option for “friends only” if preferred. The next mode is Wave Survival, for fighting waves of NPC insects off with friends or alone. In between rounds, you may get three options for picking a helpful modifier, such as a temporary shield or slower enemy spawns. And the final mode, Tiers of Heck, presents a series of single-player challenges.
The challenges of Tiers of Heck consist of fighting off three waves of enemies, with a premise for each, such as using a specific weapon or modifier. Unlike Wave Survival, where you have a set number of lives, Tiers of Heck will restart you from the beginning of the round if you lose. It arguably provides the most challenging game mode, with six tiers of three challenges each that unlock as you complete earlier ones. Even the first tier offers a decent challenge. This mode proves the central web of the single-player content for SpiderHeck. There’s a surprising amount of variation for the conceit of each challenge, with everything from having to push away explosive enemies to shooting armored bugs right in their weak spots.
There’s a saying, “constraints are the mother of innovation.” That’s true here, as the limited options for each challenge force players to become resourceful and adept at utilizing the given circumstances. At the same time, these limitations make Tiers of Heck feel like training for the other modes, emphasizing that SpiderHeck is a party game meant for multiplayer at its heart. Wave Survival gives the option for both single-player and multiplayer, but again, it’s more fun with friends.
The multiplayer modes of Versus Battle for competitive play and Wave Survival for cooperative play will be what most players spin towards. I enjoyed switching back and forth with friends, fighting tooth and nail—or webs and legs—in the battles and then seeing how long we could fair in surviving against the waves of enemies. Much of the fun comes from the wild laser weapons you get to use as you grapple your way across the screen with your webs. The weapons consist of types of laser swords—including basic ones and double-sided ones a la Darth Maul, types of ray guns and launchers, and various grenades and mines. The laser swords, or particle blades, get shorter as you use them, balancing them out against guns that only have a set number of uses.
As it stands, SpiderHeck has 32 maps, 20 weapons, and 18 modifiers. It’s a solid amount for playing with friends for a few sessions at a time, though it may not have quite enough longevity to keep people hooked indefinitely. Various cosmetics unlock by playing, many of which are tied to trophies or making it through multiple survival rounds in a row.
SpiderHeck sets all of this spider action to the pulsing music of electronic music artist Professor Kliq. Among the sharp designs and bright neon colors, the soundtrack ties the electronic aesthetic together. And in turn, the style of SpiderHeck elevates the high octane energy that the gameplay imparts. There’s so much going on and so many tiny spiders and weapons, especially in multiplayer, that a big screen proves best for taking in all the arachnid chaos of this title.
Review Disclosure Statement: SpiderHeck was provided to us by tinyBuild for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
SpiderHeck can absolutely bring out the competitive spirit in people. But its natural charm lies in providing laughs when the chaos lets loose and somebody swings right into a laser sword or accidentally blows up a chunk of the map. It would benefit from a bit more variety in game modes and content, but as it stands it offers a fun and unique spin on the couch brawler genre.
Gameplay that rewards both skill mastery and goofiness.
Stylish design bolstered by a dynamic soundtrack.
Unique challenges from the tiers and enemy types.
Swinging around on a web while swinging around a laser sword.
Could use more content variety, especially for single-player.