SAN FRANCISCO -- Arachnophobics might want to steer clear of this game. If you're brave enough, you might see Tiger Style's Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon for what it is -- an engrossing puzzle game with breathtaking graphics and a surprisingly deep story. Set to debut sometime in spring 2015 (PC, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux), the indie game casts the player as a spider making its way through a once-abandoned mansion, eating bugs and spinning webs. In the backdrop of all this insect hunting is the story of a family and the machinations of a secret society.
I began my PC demo outside the mansion during a bright moonlit night. As I scurried across a gazebo toward an unsuspecting grasshopper, the rep asked me if I noticed anything unusual about the moon. After a few seconds of awkward staring and silence, he let me off the hook.
Using my device's GPS or IP address, the game knew we were in San Francisco. From there, it utilizes Dark Sky's weather prediction technology to check the weather in the area, as well as the moon cycles. That data is replicated in the game. If I had played the night before, it would have been raining to correspond with real-time San Francisco. Because the game is officially set in the fall, the weather effect wouldn't work in the snow-bound northeast. Instead, it would feature a clear sunny day or a gorgeous starry night.
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The weather is a major component of the game, affecting your gameplay. There are areas of the game you won't be able to access if it's raining (think the itsy bitsy spider and the waterspout). Moon placement also plays a part in your game progress.
After the quick weather lesson, I started working my way through the tutorial. I'm not sure what species of spider I am, but I've definitely got some jumping spider in me. A tap of the X button sends my small arachnid bodied hurtling across the room. The square button initiates free look, letting take a look at my surrounding as well as my soon-to-be prey. Hitting the circle button lets me spin a web for catching insects. Before I spin my silk I can aim using the right analog stick.
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The object of the game is to catch enough insects to open a portal to the next area of the house. Connecting three or four strands of silk between ordinary household items creates a web that you'll use to snag a variety of insects including flies, moths, crickets and hornets. However, with only 12 strands of silk available, you're forced to think about placement, which is where the puzzle comes in. You don't want to go shooting off your load willy-nilly, or you'll be left high and dry. Luckily, every time you chow down on a creepy crawly, your web supply is replenished.
In the backdrop of the arachnid bug hunt, there's an interesting story is unfolding with the humans. Since Rite of the Shrouded Moon, is a follow up of Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, some gamers will recognize a certain returning character. As you progress through the game, the story is fleshed out. However, people that are more interested in plowing through the puzzles don't have to pay any attention to the story.
Overall, Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon offers compelling gameplay mixed with gorgeous visual, and innovative effects. We like the unlikely protagonist. Puzzle fans should definitely keep this title on their radar.