I do not like spiders. I wish I did, because spiders are objectively excellent. They have eight eyes, for goodness sakes. Let alone that they can make webs come out their bums. (Sub, please check.) They are essential for insect control (without them there would be famine), their venom may be useful in medicines, and they so frequently bite pesky Australians. And yet, despite all their clear brilliance, the idea of touching one gives me the heebie-jeebies. Brrrrrrr. Ew. Nope. However, let me introduce you to spider redemption tale, Webbed.
Webbed is a deceptive-looking game. Made in GameMaker, using chunky pixel graphics, it at first looks like so many other platformers that come out every day. This belies a game that has controls that compete (and I say this with only a pinch of hyperbole) with Insomniac’s Spider-Man games, in a bucolic setting that’s as relaxing as it is delightful. It is an absolute gem, with free, open exploration of its little clutch of woodland (the game measures distances in centimeters), a bunch of nature-loving tasks to complete in your own time, and the absolute joy of tethering webs between branches, then firing off grappling webs to distant leaves, and swooping across the world.
And you do all this as an adorable, loveable, huggable…spider.
Fortunately for me, I’m not someone who cannot cope with spiders in games. I dislike them enough in real life that their in-game incarnations as enemies tend to just thrill me further. Their ghastly creepiness makes me squirm just the right amount, and their deaths at my hand only more satisfying. They don’t, however, stop me from being able to play. But it is my newfound, fervent belief that Webbed might be the game to break through even the most arachnophobic person’s terror.
First of all, that spider is just so damned cute! She’s a big ol’ splurgy mess of pixels and eyes and legs, and all she wants to do is rescue her poor boyfriend, captured by a mean bird. If she were in real life, she’d be fluffy. Second of all, she’s just such a pleasure to control. Webbed’s perfection of movement is such a reward, as you fire webs on the fly, create bouncy landing pads to save you from spiked branches, sploing off into the canopies, then grabbing a leaf and floating gently on the breezes to go visit the friendly bees. Oh, and thirdly: you have laser eyes.
It’s so utterly incongruous, but yes, Webbed’s spider can fire laser beams from her eyes, which is useful for destroying rotten bits of wood, blasting loose stone passages in the ant’s tunnels, and most importantly, removing strands of web you might have misplaced.
Because if nothing else, Webbed has taught me a new-found respect for spiders’ skills in web-making. I didn’t start off as an idiot: I already loved spiderwebs. Most especially on a frosty morning, where they all glint as if they’re made of diamonds in the winter sunshine. They are miraculous creations, and only feel more-so after I spent a long time in the game trying to build one of my own. I could barely do it at all. Here’s my first effort:
I persisted with the craft, and created something I like to think my fellow spider-friends might generously consider modern spider-art:
It wasn’t until I really knuckled down (do spiders have knuckles? If so, it must be SO many) and remembered how spiders actually build them themselves that it came together.
Look at that! Not very closely! What I realised, and forgive me if you’re someone slightly less daft than me, is that those lines coming in from the outside to the centre aren’t made first! They aren’t really made deliberately at all. Instead, they’re a result of pulling the web in concentric circles. Which is all to say: wow, Webbed really gets spiderwebs right. Incredibly so.
Webbed’s authenticity likely means that many won’t even give it a go. I’ll secure that by saying that this spider really does scuttle. Adorably! She scuttles like a gorgeous little cartoon fluffball, her legs’ movement across the threads so brilliantly and aurally accompanied by rapidly plucked strings. But yes, I’ve just unconvinced swathes of people from giving this awesome game a go.
Take it from me, a spider-weakling who leaps onto furniture when a big, hairy one skitters across the floor, and has to be rescued by his fearless six-year-old. Webbed conjures none of that ickiness in my case. So maybe yours too! It’s definitely worth finding out.