Deadly Creatures

The idea behind this is certainly interesting. It’s an adventure starring a spider and a scorpion with a human story overheard in snippets of dialogue as the creepy-crawly heroes cross the paths of a pair of human treasure-hunters in the desert. In one level you’ll play the spider, pursuing its scorpion rival through the undergrowth. After a quick fight, the scorpion escapes through a crack in the rock and becomes the playable character for the next level. Gameplay alternates between the two and there are recurring enemies, such as a giant rattlesnake and the two men.

As unusual as it sounds – and despite the ability to walk upside-down and on walls – it’s a surprisingly approachable game. Playing it reminded us a lot of a slower-paced Spyro sort of thing, with a little exploration combined with a lot of fighting. You scuttle along towards your destination – helpfully indicated by a direction arrow in case you get lost – until the pathway becomes sealed off at preset points and a bunch of enemy insects and lizards drop in to greet you. Dispose of them all and your arachnid avatar can move on a little further.

The creatures are based on things the Austin, Texas-based developers have seen running around in their back yards. We bet they’ve never actually seen a tarantula eavesdropping on human criminals before kick-boxing an iguana, but that’s what artistic license is all about. The graphics look suitably authentic and the animation is nice and creepy. Arachnophobes should steer well clear of this.

The spider can fire webs at its foes, jump to attack them and throw punches with its front legs. The scorpion is heavier and stronger, with the ability to block using its claws and deliver a lethal sting. Shake the remote and it’ll do a bizarre spinning attack – realism isn’t much of a factor here, although the creatures do look very authentic. Extra moves can be learned along the way and there are hundreds of disgusting maggot things to collect (eat) for bonuses.

We’re curious to see how the two strands of the plot tie together and how the tiny, oblivious heroes end up influencing the world of the humans. In one scene the spider is saved from a rattlesnake by a human hand that snatches the larger beast for a private collection. Later, the spider is also captured and winds up in a glass case next to the snake, waiting to be turned into a trophy. The conclusion to this cliffhanger comes this spring.

Jan 6, 2009