Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4
Publisher: Tiger Style LLC
Developer: Tiger Style
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: Leaderboards
ESRB: E10+

Even though I’ve been playing video games to varying degrees of intensity for decades, what really piqued my current love of games was mobile games, of all things. I bought an iPod around 2009, discovered the range of games beyond just sports ones, and that in turn spurred me on to check out everything on more traditional gaming platforms.

Because of the timing of my return to gaming, one title I constantly tried to get into was Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor. Invariably, though, no matter how many awards it won or raves it earned, I could never get into it. Something to do with iffy touch controls, if I remember correctly.

This is why I’m such a huge fan of Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon. Rather than fiddling around with touching just the right place on the screen, you get to use buttons. This, in turn, means you can jump across the screen with much greater precision — just the kind of thing you need when, as the titular spider, you’re trying to weave a web in a particularly cramped space.

And that, ultimately, means I can say this: now I totally understand why the first game was so beloved. It takes a unique concept — you’re a spider, trying to catch various insects — and turns it into a whole game, complete with a mysterious story, cryptic clues, and high score leaderboards. It may not sound like much on paper, but in practice it seems like the most natural thing in the world.

If there’s any downside to Spider, it’s the load times. One of the game’s neat ideas is that it tries to incorporate the weather around you into its little universe. While this is undoubtedly a great idea on always-online smartphones, on the Vita — which doesn’t have an internet connection on the go, unless you’re tethering it — it means that you have to wait a few moments while the game tries in vain to find a connection, before giving up and moving on.

As far as I’m concerned, however, that’s a small price to pay if it means getting to play Spider with buttons. It was roundly received as an innovative mobile gaming experience when it debuted there nearly a decade ago, and its console debut shows that all that praise is still deserved today.

Grade: A