Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor an intelligent masterpiece

Posted: August 10, 2009 in Puzzle

Spiders are considered the architects of the nature world, but not many of us would find them very appealing…until now. Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor is not only unique in that you play as an arachnid, but it’s an intelligent game because it brings out the creativity in each of us. This is the type of game that doesn’t pigeonhole you into one solution, but instead creates a journey where the solution is a matter of perception.

With Spider, you embark on a journey through Bryce Manor where initially the task at hand is staying alive by trapping and sucking the life out of bugs throughout various everyday rooms and environments from the front porch and the dining room to the basement and the plumbing.

Playing a spider doesn’t sound that much fun until you realize that the devs have created something special most notably in the controls. In this game, you get a pretty clear idea of a spider’s life, and that’s quite the accomplishment. The controls utilize every aspect of the iPhone/iPod Touch platform, making spider movements fluid. While walking and jumping are straightforward, it’s the web spinning that really sets this game apart. You simply tap the spider, and swipe to create a thread, and as long as a geometric shape is created, a web will form. These webs can be created anywhere in any design as long as there is an anchor. I literally created rooms full of spider webs even after the portal opened just because I could.

Each of the rooms has bugs, and the point of the webs is to capture bugs so you can feed. Sometimes it’s easier said than done in terms of capturing them, keeping in mind that silk is limited, and you’ll die if you can’t curb your hunger in time. Of course, capturing hornets is a whole other story, but let’s just say that the traditional web won’t cut it. The environments are beautifully rendered and look like everyday lived-in places with family pictures, clothing hanging on racks to a dirty kitchen. Eat enough bugs and build enough webs, and a portal opens to the next room. But, wait a minute, soon you notice that even a lived-in place has some type of order to it, and from the looks of things, the residents left in a hurray many eons ago. Why? You get the opportunity to that figure out, and that’s really where the fun continues because soon you unlock family secrets hidden in the deepest recesses of the manor.

The exploration part of the game with the responsive control mechanics by itself would make this a full-featured, highly rated game. But the devs went one step above that and created a smarter game with a mystery is gradually revealed. This is easily one of the most innovative games I’ve come across in all aspects from the storyline and visuals to the controls mechanics and ultimate payoff.

Spider has several modes of play: Adventure, Feeding Frenzy, Hunger, and Precision. Adventure is the storyline and one that needs to be played in its entirety. As each of the 28 levels is cleared, a time is provided along with number of bugs eaten. A minor issue is that you cannot go back to previously completed levels, which would be ideal if you want to capture all the bugs, improve your time, or just practice web spinning. The other modes really tend to be more mini-game modes. Feeding Frenzy provides 3 minutes to see how many bugs you can eat. Hunger forces you to eat as continuously as possible before the hunger meter drains. Precision limits the spider to less silk and shorter threads. In terms of scoring, bugs equal points, and if you manage to move from cobweb to cobweb, you activate a multiplier effect.

The game also has a set of 24 Webspinner achievements which provide awards for # of webs created, bug combos, web design (not the ones on the Internet), finding secret rooms, various other milestones for the other game modes, and for discovering the Bryce Manor secrets among others. Additional features include an online scoreboard and local lifetime statistics page showing things including total of bugs eaten and webs created.

I always say that controls play a huge part in making or breaking a game. In Spider, the controls make this game and then some. Moving around and doing what a spider is supposed to do for lack of a better term feels natural. I never thought playing the part of a spider doing everyday things with a mystery thrown in would be this entertaining, and Spider pulls it off.

Spider delivers a rewarding experience that doesn’t insult a player’s intelligence. Your creativity is only limited by your imagination and of course keeping your spider fed. I highly recommend this terrific experience of a game.

Albie Meter: 5 Stars (the spider control mechanics are top notch with a challenging premise; intelligent gameplay that should set itself apart from the rest of the pack; devs talent and creativity is obvious)

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