Very few indie games have been as influential in the world as Spelunky. Back before Twitch had taken off and the indie movement was still in its beginning phases, gamers flocked to watch others dig through the dark mines and beat one another's records. Without question, the roguelike genre wouldn't have caught on the way it did without Spelunky and both streaming and speed-running on the indie scene would be an entirely different story.
Spelunky 2 will launch in 2019 into a world that is much different with loads of alternatives and competition to bump heads with. Our first look at the gameplay shows a game that hasn't changed all that much, but in an interview with creator Derek Yu, PlayStation Blog gets to the bottom of how this game will separate itself from the original… and the countless games it inspired.
PlayStation.Blog: So, first things first: What is Spelunky 2?
Derek Yu: Spelunky 2 is the sequel to the roguelike platformer Spelunky and takes place after the events of the original game. Since Spelunky 1 was released a lot of great roguelike-inspired games have come out and pushed the genre in cool new directions, but I think Spelunky is still very unique in terms of the freedom it offers the player and the way different elements interact, where one event can trigger a cascade of consequences that have to be dealt with. That's something we've been building on – not just adding lots of new things (which we're doing!), but also making the world feel even more interconnected. And that includes storytelling (both developer-created and player-created) as well as game mechanics.
PSB: I understand this game is very, very different from Spelunky 1 – why? What guided that decision? Why not be safe and just do another like he already did?
DY: At its core, Spelunky 2 is not too different, actually. My opinion about sequels is that they are extensions of the previous games, so I want fans of Spelunky 1 to jump in and feel like they're playing a continuation, both storywise and mechanically. The big question on my mind was "What makes Spelunky, Spelunky?" I wanted to figure out what those ideas were and take them to their limit without anything getting in their way. Sometimes that means adding, sometimes that means remixing – it can also mean subverting expectations created by the original game.
PSB: What will Spelunky fans "get" about the game right away? What's similar? What's different?
DY: I think they'll immediately get into the flow of playing the game. Which is great, because with Spelunky 1 we had a hard time explaining that to people. Now that they get it, we can spend more time making the experience deeper and richer. There are a lot of differences that, when added up, really make the game feel different. For example, each level will have a second layer that you can go back and forth between. Sometimes the entrance is right there and sometimes it's a hidden shortcut. Even though the gameplay is still 2D platforming, this adds a feeling of a third dimension to the exploration.
We've also added liquid physics that are really fun to play with – combined with the destructible terrain you get things like dynamic water or lavafalls that you have to deal with on each run. The world breathes more. And then there's all the expected new areas, items, monsters, and traps. It really is a lot.
I'm still very much thinking about new players, though. But my philosophy has always been to attract new players by making the world more interesting and inviting instead of focusing on tutorials and things like that. Spelunky is still Spelunky and it will be very challenging – my hope is that new players will want to persevere because we made the effort worth it. Spelunky 2 will have very strong themes of family and friendship and I want new players to feel cared for even as we put tough obstacles in their way.
Spelunky 2 will launch for the PlayStation 4 and PC in 2019.