Apple's subscription-based gaming service started with a bang in September 2019, promising regular game releases to keep the platform fresh and attractive. Things have slowed down a bit, with just a handful of releases each month in 2020. The platform, which costs Rs. 99 per month in India, still an excellent value with a good collection of top quality attractive games. For people trapped at home thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, and global blockages, Apple Arcade keeps things going with its latest release, Spyder, from developer Sumo Digital Ltd.
Spyder puts you in the role of Agent 8, a robotic spider serving the fictional British spy agency EP-8. Set in a retro-themed world, Spyder places the player in various environments to solve puzzles and problems, to spread various situations and save the world from the evil organization SIN. It is a family game that is suitable for anyone over the age of four. We tried this new Apple Arcade game in the middle of blocking all of India for rest and relaxation.
A robot spy? Check
The game begins with an interesting premise; you are a spy, but not of the James Bond variety. Instead, you're a pretty cute, life-size, robotic spider named Agent 8, who works for the fictional British spy agency EP-8. Its size and shape naturally make it ideal for undercover missions such as sabotaging bomber planes and repairing damaged space capsules. SIN, the game's faceless antagonist, depends on all sorts of devilish acts that you and Agent 8 must stop at.
As a robotic spider, you have much of the mobility and abilities of a real spider, including the ability to walk on surfaces oriented in any direction. Its size also allows it to penetrate the smallest spaces, and the fact that it is a robot means that it can even perform operations in environments hostile to humans, such as outer space.
You also have a variety of devices and tools at your disposal, including web symbols, a grappling hook, and a laser cutter, which are used to negotiate the environment. This gives the game a bit of the retro feel of the spy thriller, while still retaining the tenderness and friendliness of children of being a robotic spider with giant eyes and authentic expressions. The art design is charming with bright colors and dominant pastel shades, giving a cheerful look to the proceedings.
The game is not a flat two-dimensional platform game; your spider skills mean you can walk on the surface looking in almost any direction. This means that in addition to moving and interacting with objects, you must also monitor the camera to see where you are going. This is the difficult part, as the camera adjusts continuously depending on the direction in which you are moving. Dragging your finger or thumb anywhere on the screen moves Agent 8, while the camera setting needs to slide two fingers.
Unfortunately, two thumbs on either end of the screen don't work very well; You need your index and middle fingers to properly adjust your sight. On a larger device like the iPad mini (2019), this was occasionally an annoyance and meant that we had to continue adjusting our control over the tablet.
Getting around is pretty easy, and interacting with objects usually takes a short or long touch, followed by moving Agent 8 or turning your finger on the screen to adjust the sliders or turn the knobs. However, the game is a test of patience, since you are moving slowly and constantly having to work with your eyes adjusted. On a couple of occasions, these random view changes meant that we accidentally ran into harmful situations, which was a bit frustrating.
Combined puzzles and physics
While you might consider Spyder to be an RPG, the core experience is exploring and solving puzzles; This is what makes this game so attractive to players of all ages. We loved the challenges that the game presented to us; They were neither too easy nor too difficult, and each level poses unique challenges based on the environment. We especially liked the second mission after the tutorial, which had us fix fuel lines and other components through interesting puzzles in a sabotaged space capsule that is hurtling towards Earth.
Each level in the game takes between 20 and 30 minutes to complete, depending on how committed you are. The tutorial gives you a good idea of the basic controls and the premise, but the later levels present completely unique challenges that will take a little effort and effort to solve. While most levels don't have a time limit, some challenges arose that forced us to think fast due to a forced timer; One of those situations was the detonation of a bomb in the air as it was already rushing towards its target.
It's like a 1960s Bond movie starring Wall-E
Unlike typical spy thrillers that feature more sinister things, Spyder keeps things family friendly by avoiding violence. However, it does so while retaining the typical feel of a classic spy thriller; With the retro look captured well by developer Sumo Digital Ltd., Agent 8 is itself a visual combination of Wall-E-Meet-Steampunk, which will play well with users of all ages.
The environments are also visually beautiful, with lots of color and details that give it a typically console game feel. Each level is generally represented by a large vehicle of some kind, such as an airplane, a space capsule, and a submarine. The game is best played on the larger screens of iPads or on your Apple TV, keeping in mind that Spyder is easily one of the most attractive games in Apple Arcade right now.
Should you play it?
The initial blitz of Apple Arcade games at launch came with some awesome titles including What The Golf ?, Sayonara Wild Hearts, and Sneaky Sasquatch. However, the subscription service has not produced as many high-quality titles as frequently since then. This is what makes Spyder such a refreshing new version; It is a touch of sunshine for the platform at a time when we are battling a threatening pandemic of global proportions, forced to stay home and we need it most.
Suitable for ages four and up, Spyder is a single player game, but can be played together with your family. If you have an Apple Arcade subscription, check it out now. And if you don't have an Apple Arcade subscription but you do have an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, you should consider getting it.