Spyder Review

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spyder.

Agent 8 is a cute little guy. Roughly 4cm in span, with two little flashlight-like eyes and eight adorable robot legs, he’s a wonder gadget in the fight against S.I.N. Where did he come from? Who designed him? It doesn’t really matter, because he’s got sinister and spectacular plots to foil.

Agent 8’s a staggeringly capable little robot, stuffed with little electronic gadgets to interface with terminals, a screwdriver to get into vents, grappling hook to grab items or leap across gaps, and more. It’s biggest trick, however, is in its legs. Just like Spider-Man and real spiders, Agent 8 can scuttle up almost any surface. It’s this that gives the game its main hook, of giving you freedom to explore a location almost unhindered.

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With the game an Apple Arcade exclusive, this has to work whether you’re playing with the touch screen, connecting up a controller, or sat at the keyboard and mouse of a ludicrously expensive Mac Pro. The touch controls are pretty intuitive, with the left half of the screen dedicated to movement and the right letting you tilt the camera – this has been patched in shortly after release – and you then interact with things by tapping or holding on them. Alternatively, playing with a controller will feel instantly familiar to anyone that’s played the most basic of platformers.

That freedom of movement means that the camera needs to be on its A-game. By and large it does manage to frame the action so that you can understand where you are and what way up you are, but sometimes it can frustrate and freak out as you move Agent 8 into a tight spot or shuffle over the lip of a desk. It’s this kind of behaviour (and not just how hot my iPhone 8 would get) that pushed me more to playing with a controller than with a touch screen.

The half dozen levels in the game are fairly directed, almost always pointing you in the right direction with an objective marker and camera. While there’s something of an escape room vibe to the situations you’ll find yourself tackling, you’re only left to figure things out for yourself on a handful of occasions.

Spyder is an immediately charming game to look at, with a visual design that feels lightly reminiscent of Sumo Digital’s last homegrown game, Snake Pass. Of course, where Snake Pass had a cutesy fantasy charm, Spyder is full of all the quirks of 60s and 70s Cold War Bond films. The first mission sees you scampering back and forth across a computer console trying to prevent a nuclear launch, and it continues much in the same vein, as you save a space mission, stop a runaway train and more.

It won’t take you took long to rattle through the six levels, maybe four hours, though you can spend longer exploring each level, soaking in the environment and snagging the sticker collectables. Unfortunately there were a small handful instances where bugs halted my progress, not letting me select a particular wire to cut for example, though these were relatively easily fixed by reloading. I also had a little more inconsistency in that regard with the touch controls than with a controller.

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Summary
With its Cold War Bond stylings and hook of being able to climb up walls and along ceilings, Spyder is a charming miniature spy adventure, that's easily worth the time if you're subscribed to Apple Arcade.
Good
  • Agent 8 is adorable
  • Great gameplay hook of being able to climb up walls
Bad
  • Can feel a bit too directed at times
  • Occasional camera freak outs and progression bugs
7
Written by
I'm probably wearing toe shoes, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!