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Delve Into Addiction: Spelunky 2 Review

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Spelunky 2 Logo

Roguelikes have made a lot of progress in the past few years towards level design that can compete with other, more conventional, games. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether or not a roguelike is truly randomly generated. While all this is true, many roguelike developers have had one game in the back of their mind during the design process: Spelunky. Spelunky has always been a unique roguelike, relying on its strange, often obscure mechanics to carry it in a market that is bloated with platformers. However, Spelunky now has a sequel, and it easily bests the original, as well as many other roguelikes in the same genre.

Platforms: PC [Reviewed], Playstation Store, Switch (Summer 2021)
Developer: Mossmouth, Blitworks
Release: September 15, 2020
MSRP: $19.99

Spelunky 2 is, put quite simply, a gem among platformers. As with the first game, the gameplay loop is both challenging and addicting. Despite its ultra-hard, and sometimes, unfair perspective on platforming, Spelunky 2 features a wide variety of ways to ease the player into the experience. For example, most falls in world 1 can be avoided by correctly jumping or falling on the right block. Coupled with the sometimes extremely generous appearances of bombs and rope, it is often easier just to skip straight to the exit than it is to go through the level. That being said, it isn’t always the wisest idea to skip treasure. In this way, Spelunky 2 repeats the same decision making process over and over again: does one pick the easy path or the most profitable?

This decision making permeates every layer of this game. Let’s take a specific example of this in action: the whip. The front of the whip is easier to hit with, but requires a small delay, and in Spelunky 2 milliseconds can make the difference. A much harder strategy, but sometimes more effective, is using the back of the whip. Here, one can instantly pop bats and other enemies. But, if you miss, you must go through the full whip animation before you can try again. It also has a smaller bottom hitbox, meaning that sometimes it will miss enemies in strange places.

Spelunky 2 Screenshot World 2

This constant back-and-forth decision making is what makes Spelunky 2 so addicting. Did you die to a giant spider in the jungle of world 2? Well, if you had gone to the volcano maybe that wouldn’t have happened. Did you throw a rock to destroy a bone block to save a few seconds and it bounced down and hit you, causing a chain reaction that eventually cost you your life? Well, you could have just whipped that bone block. In this way, Spelunky shows you that your decision making is only valid when supported by your mechanics. And, Spelunky 2 is definitely not messing around when it comes to mechanics.

In terms of gameplay, the controls are responsive, tight, and easy to use, initially at least. While you are delving into Spelunky 2’s many worlds, you will make mistakes that will leave you stunned. For instance, holding items near a ledge will cause you to automatically drop them. This may seem unintuitive, and it is, but it also makes you watch your step even more when holding a valuable item, your pet cat, or a rock that might kill your friend. Just like everything in Spelunky 2, the learning curve for properly moving your character is steep. It is for this reason that we highly recommend using a controller while playing Spelunky 2.

Spelunky 2 Screenshot world 4

The music in Spelunky 2 is thematic for every level, and completes the experience. Despite the world 1 music being potentially the weakest (compared to the original), as well as the one you will hear the most, the music is extremely good. There is no sweeter feeling in the world than making it to a new level and hearing new tracks. It drives home your progression, and the upbeat nature of most of the songs makes it sound all the more triumphant.

Speaking of progression, most of that is made up of unlocking new skins for your character. However, there is no small amount of progression that comes from getting better at the game. Consistently making it to the second world of the game after two or three runs really makes you think: “How did I ever think world 1 was hard?” Then you die, then you die a few more times in world 1 and think “Oh, that’s how.”

Spelunky 2 Screenshot World 1

It is worth noting that there is a shortcut system built into the game, and after a while of playing runs from world 1 to 2, world 1 will seem trivial. So, it is nice to be able to skip world 1 and practice the harder levels.

There are other modes to Spelunky, such as the arena mode. However, these should be reserved for parties, as the AI is a bit chaotic, as well as sometimes end up making the game unwinnable by bombing out specific tiles. Not that this won’t happen in a game with your friends, it’s just that it is a lot easier to explain, and a whole lot easier to joke about. As it is, playing arena by yourself is a bit like playing Mario Party alone: unnecessary and slightly weird.

Spelunky 2 Screenshot Arena

As a final note, the online in Spelunky 2 is adequate. If both players have decent enough systems (this won’t be an issue hopefully when it comes out for Switch), and good enough internet connections, you can play with little to no lag. The multiplayer options do make the game slightly easier, as you can revive your friend after 1 level if they died, and it spawns them in with 4 health. However, Spelunky 2 could use a little more forgiveness, and so I found this made the gameplay more intense and strategic rather than easier.

If there was a flaw I could point out in Spelunky 2, it would be that it has too steep a learning curve for the average gamer. However, in general, the game rewards the curious with a deep, but non-intuitive, platforming experience. If you’re looking to learn, improve, and finally demonstrate your mastery over a genuinely challenging game, look no further than Spelunky 2.


  • Deep, challenging gameplay
  • Great music
  • Fun with friends
  • Responsive controls
  • Lots of replay-value


  • Mechanics seem odd and arcane at times
  • Not very beginner friendly
  • Multiplayer netcode has a tendency to hiccup when encountering poor connections




Great games are generally good buying decisions and are recommended for those with an interest in the genre. There might be a few flaws that detract from the gameplay, stories, controls, presentations, or value, but the game is still an enjoyable experience that justifies a full playthrough.

Want to know what this score means? Check out our Scoring Guidelines page.

About the Author: Collin Westbrook

Collin Westbrook joined in 2010 to help with Zelda Castle, and has since rejoined the staff multiple times throughout Nintendo Castle's existence. He is a lover of strategy games, platformers, and everything Nintendo. Look out for him editing guides, writing articles, and helping the site in whatever way he can.

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