When you think of scorpions and tarantulas battling it out God of War style, do you think Coen Brothers? If you say yes, you must be popping the Crazy Pills. That, or you’re one of the developers for Deadly Creatures. Yet it’s this off-kilter thinking that lends the Wii-exclusive arthropod adventure a unique flavor. Sure, they could’ve stopped at the concept of brutal combos and wall-crawling on the inside of abandoned water heaters, but why not throw in a little human murder mystery intrigue?
Okay, so it still sounds like an odd mixture, but if you think about it thematically, it ties together: the cruel kill-or-be-killed world beneath our feet parallels the cruel nature in the hearts of men. That, and tying together the events of a tiny creepy-crawly and the explosion of a gas station is simple a cool premise, since it beckons you to find out exactly how that could happen.
The story unfolds completely from your diminished perspective, never breaking away to follow the two human characters, played by Dennis Hopper and Bill Bob Thornton. Here and there, during the respite between exoskeletal beatings, you’ll encounter the booming thuds of boots overhead as the world shakes and dirt sprinkles down, and you’ll overhear the two men discussing their problem as it develops. The dialogue is not surprisingly well-acted, and has a natural feel to the writing. We haven’t seen enough to say how the overall story progresses, but we can say the tidbits we saw were well done, with a distinctively Hollywood feel to them.
As for the gameplay, it mostly alternates between melee combat and exploration, taking advantage of the critter-eye view in both areas. As you probably know by now, you get to control both a tarantula and a scorpion, each with its own tools to use and levels to traverse. These armored arachnids are not friends, however, and you’ll actually get a chance to fight against the one you aren’t currently controlling. In both cases, the sound of your tiny legs scrabbling along the desert floor is deliciously phobia-inducing, as are the realistic animations.
The tarantula can crawl up walls and onto ceilings, can pounce on enemies or jump around as an evasive maneuver, and can use webbing as a grappling hook in areas where you find pre-existing webs as grapple-points. Its general theme is nimbleness, with combat flaying out in a fast style. Darting in with a “venom pounce” impales opponents with your fangs, and if they raise a clawed appendage for a retaliatory strike you can leap out of the way, or even over them for a back attack. If you choose (or are forced) to fight on walls or ceilings, you won’t be able to use your evasive jumping since it would realistically cause you to fall. These situations can be useful if you’re fighting enemies that use their own jumps to make them hard to hit.