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Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor
by Chris Thomas on Tuesday 25th Aug 2009

Hornets can't be caught in webs, you need to tackle them in mid-air!

Spiders are the coolest of the creepy crawlies. Their powers are the best, it’s that simple. Climbing up walls, spinning webs and devouring insects alive: that’s just plain awesome and, incidentally, exactly what you’ll be doing in this utterly fantastic iPhone game.

Taking on the role of the titular Spider your task is to make your way around an eerily deserted manor-house all the while catching and consuming flies in your webs to unlock the next area. The game is played on a 2D plane like a traditional platformer with the manor divided up by room. 

The iPhones’ lack of physical buttons is, and probably always will be a source of frustration for gamers. All too often traditional gameplay mechanics are implemented where the controls must be shoe horned in as virtual buttons that are often unwieldy and in some cases unresponsive. This is why it is such an immense pleasure to uncover games that are designed around the systems strength and inputs. Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor has one of the most wonderfully natural and intuitive control schemes to the point where the simple act of making your way around the levels is a joy in and of itself.

Touching on either side of the spider will set him crawling in that direction (lets assume the spider is male to make writing this easier), he’ll also automatically climb up and over any walls or obstacles. Swiping across the spider will send him leaping in that direction however if you tap him before you swipe he’ll anchor a webline to whatever surface he’s perched on. Using this technique you can cross over multiple weblines which will turn into fully enclosed webs; these will ensnare any hapless flies that happen to pass across them. Throwing in a slight puzzle element you can add strategy to your web spinning; for example in one level I span a lot of webs around a light bulb and then leapt on the light switch. All of the moths/butterflys instantly flew towards the light and became ensnared in my web.

Beyond the gameplay and controls what really elevates Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor to the status of a “Must Buy” is the artistry. The graphics have a poignant hand drawn style to them that is really unlike any game I’ve ever seen before. They perfectly compliment the nagging feeling you’ll get the further into the mansion you explore, the feeling that you’re uncovering a storyline bigger than the spider and his flying prey. If you go out of your way to explore the various rooms you’ll stumble across secret areas (inside boxes, light fittings etc) filled with clues as to what happened in the manor. I won’t spoil it but the last room might prove quite a shock and is well worth sticking around to uncover.

Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor is a tremendous accomplishment. It succeeds on every level, in fact the only significant complaint we can level at the game is that once the game is completed you can’t go back and replay any specific level. Your only options are to restart the story from scratch. I also found myself wishing there were more levels but this is more due to the fact that the game is so good I didn’t want it to end than any shortfall in the games design. So why are you still reading this? Get onto the App Store and spend the ridiculously modest amount Tiger Style Games are asking for this beautiful game.

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  • Sound: 9
  • Graphics: 9
  • Gameplay: 9
  • Longevity: 8



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