Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon ($4.99) by Tiger Style is a puzzle game that is literally an intricate and complex web of mystery. If there is one puzzle game that you must pick up this year, then it is this one. Fans of the original Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor should not hesitate to buy this right now.
When it comes to games on my iPhone, I’m always a big fan of puzzle games. While I have played a lot of them in the past several years, I never got into the original Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor because, well, as silly as it sounds, I am not the biggest fan of spiders. That deterred me away from the original game, but when I heard that the sequel was coming out this week to much fanfare, I was intrigued. The only thought that kept going through my head was, “Is this series really that good?” Well, even though I’m still not in love with spiders, I have to admit that this is a great game.
The visuals in Rite of the Shrouded Moon are stunningly gorgeous, and definitely one of the most beautiful games I’ve picked up this year. The various rooms of the abandoned mansion are rich in colors, texture, and fine details, so it is clear how much time and effort went into making the game. Even the large variety of bugs, who made the mansion their home, are lifelike despite their flat appearances. Animations are buttery smooth, and the soundtrack is soothing.
Like many other puzzle games, Rite of the Shrouded Moon is based on a series of levels, which are different rooms and sections of an abandoned mansion in this case. Players take the role of a spider and navigate through each room, one-by-one, in linear order while covering everything in cobwebs. You can access previous levels through the map, which also shows your progress through the game as well as high scores.
One thing that makes Rite of the Shrouded Moon so special, though, is the fact that the game changes mood depending on the time and weather in real life. The game will prompt you for your location, which determines if it is day or night in the game, and whether it is clear or stormy outside. Different bugs appear at different times of the day, with the rarer and more beautiful bugs at night.
The objective in the game is to guide the spider through each room while trapping and catching bugs to open the portal for the next area, but there’s more to it than that. The mansion was built by a secret society for a mysterious, unknown purpose, and only you can uncover the truth about it. There will be many secret passages to discover and even secret messages that you’ll have to decrypt. Since you’re a spider, it won’t be difficult to slip through cracks and crevices that humans would never be able to see.
Controls in the game are simple and intuitive, though it may take a bit of getting used to if you’ve never played the original game. You move the spider forward or backward by long-pressing on the appropriate side of the screen. To jump, just swipe on the spider. You can build webs by tapping on the spider before jumping to use a silk thread, but be careful — the spider only has so much silk to start with, and the thread has a limited distance. Webs are formed when at least three threads connect and form a closed shape, and you regain silk by eating insects that get caught in the webs. Some bugs, like the house fly and hornet, must be tackled. You score points for eating or taking out bugs, and you also have a web multiplier if you eat trapped bugs and jump to the next web for more. The multiplier resets the moment you go from web to ground. A pinching gesture lets you zoom in or out, allowing you to see the room in full and plan out a strategy.
Once you eat enough bugs, the portal for that stage opens up and you have to reach it to advance to the next level. A transparent arrow shows up on the screen to lead the way.
There is Game Center support for leaderboards on each level, and 48 achievements to obtain. Replay value is high in the game, as you can always go back and try to get a better score. And since the game has tons of bugs to discover at different times of the day and year, this is a title that will keep you busy for months.
Even though I never played the first game, I’m enjoying Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon so far. The game just looks exquisite, the atmospheric music pulls you into the mansion, controls are easy to understand, and the gameplay is challenging and engaging. The core concept is simple, but exploring and unraveling the mystery is just downright fun. I’m glad I gave it a try, and recommend it to anyone who loves a good puzzle game with secrets.