Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, one of the most inventive and unique games that we’ve come across for the iPhone and iPod Touch, has been released by Tiger Style in the app store. Creating a ton of buzz and receiving rave reviews (at one point, iTunes showed 102 5-star reviews and nothing below a 5), we were a bit skeptical about how good this simple, unhyped game could be. We were happy to discover that Spider earned every one of those 5-star review.
Imagine you are a spider. What do you do? Spin webs. Eat bugs. Repeat. You inhabit a creepy, abandoned home known as Bryce Manor. It appears that the previous tenants are no longer residing there, and it is quite possible that they left in a hurry. No worries. That just means fewer obstacles as you go about your day, feasting upon insects to replenish your silk supply. Spin enough webs and eat enough bugs and you’ll open a portal through which you move from beautifully-rendered room to beautifully-rendered room. As you traverse the house, it begins to become evident that something is amiss in this household. But what? That is the mystery that you must solve. Or don’t, because simply spinning webs and eating bugs is actually way more fun than it sounds or we ever could have imagined. There is no right or wrong here. Well, technically, if you don’t eat enough bugs and run out of silk, you won’t advance, but plan accordingly and spin strategically and you’ll be fine.
There are plenty of bugs available in each room, and they all seem to move about in a fairly predictable pattern, which allows you to create a web in an area that you know certain bugs will pass through. The controls are spectacular and much of the enjoyment of the game comes from the near-flawlessness of these controls. To move about, you hold your finger on the screen in the direction that you want the spider to move. He’ll actually move pretty quickly, which is another terrific decision by Tiger Style, as waiting for the spider to amble slowly about could have left some gamers bored. Holding for brief periods makes the spider move a bit slower and allows you to fine-tune your speed. Jumping requires a swipe of your finger in the direction that you want to jump. This spider has hops! To spin a web, you must find a solid point upon which to anchor your web. Move your spider to an anchor point and tap him to start a web. From the anchor, swipe your finger to jump to another point. If it is solid and close enough, a silk thread will be formed between the two points. If it cannot be an anchor point (such as a wash basin) or it is too far away, the thread will not form. If you create a thread, tap the spider again to start another anchor and swipe to create another thread. If your silk threads combine to form a geometric shape, a web will automatically form in the center and any bugs that cross that area will become ensnared. Bon appétit! There are a few meals that will require a bit more work. For instance, hornets will not get caught in your web. They must be tackled out of the air with a flying leap, which rivals even a Ray Lewis blindside in our opinion.
There are 28 rooms in which to eat and search for clues to the happenings at Bryce Manor, as well as 4 game modes: Adventure, Feeding Frenzy, Hunger, and Precision. Adventure is the main game mode, while Feeding Frenzy and Hunger involve eating ravenously. Precision puts your web skills to the test, with less available silk. In addition, there are 24 Webspinner achievements that can be earned, from spinning a certain number of webs to earning a certain number of points to unlocking all of the family secrets. Lifetime stats are maintained so that you can see how much work you’ve put into the game. Spider integrates with Facebook, so you can brag about your success or compare scores with friends. There is also a local, Facebook friends, and global high scores list to motivate you.
Graphically, there are few games that look better than Spider. Major attention has been paid to the details and it shows. The soundtrack is great, too. There is a good mix of music, from funky to a bit creepy, which helps to set the mood for each room. Controls are fantastic. Many of the details have been explained previously. You can also zoom out and explore each room by tapping with two fingers and swiping to pan. Another two-finger tap returns you to the game. The only, and we mean ONLY, negative that we could find was the lack of an ability to replay levels once you’ve completed them. Hopefully, this can be addressed in an update.
There is nothing like Spider in the app store. It stands on its own and stands proudly. Replay value abounds, from attempting to capture all bugs to unlocking all achievements to just having fun spinning webs and enjoying the spider’s control scheme. We can’t praise the game enough for bringing something new, exciting, and addicting to the app store. For $2.99, you will not be disappointed. 5-Dimples all the way!
Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor gets our AppSmile 5-Dimple rating: