Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes, a 2D Dark Souls-like platformer

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Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes is one of the types of games that catches my eye. Right up front it lets you know that there are going to be difficulties ahead. My first impression when I saw the game was that it looked like someone took the old The Goonies platformer arcade game, threw in multiple, unique characters ala Super Meat Boy, and expanded on the game mechanics.

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Sometimes this game makes me feel like I’m playing a 2D, platforming version of Dark Souls. When I initially started playing, I was very paranoid of any potentially threatening pixels after having briefly seen another player walk away utterly defeated. There are spikes that blast out from the floor unexpectedly, and certain hard-to-see walls shoot one-hit-kill darts, so I’m sure you can see why I would be wary of things trying to jump out and kill me every step that I took. After I had gained some confidence, and a little bit of visual knowledge as to what needs to be avoided, the flow of the game picked up and I was doing more than inching along the pixel-filled screen.

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A random person from the crowd decided to play cooperatively with me. He chose Nyx who has the ability to flutter a few times in the air, effectively staying above not-so-nice things like spikes that thrust out of the ground for extended periods of time. I was playing as the female character who can do double jumps–I’m a big fan of those. At one point I came to a section that surprised me because I didn’t have a clue as to how my character could progress. I quickly remembered that my character was able to hold onto ledges and I bravely ran off a ledge, grabbing hold of an opposing ledge and safely hanging until the deadly spikes had gone back into their nesting holes. I really like that the characters in the game have different mechanics, and all are able to progress in slightly different ways.

This game is a friendship-breaker lying in wait

At one point, there were several platforms with spikes poking out of them every few seconds. With the two of us working in tandem, we were able to more quickly push a block across, standing on it when we needed to avoid being unnecessarily ventilated. The task could have been done alone, but with two it was a bit more involving, since it required us to pay attention to what the other was doing. As soon as one player decided it was time to stop pushing and jump back onto the top of the block for safety, the other player would have to account for the block not being pushed as fast when they too decided to jump on top of the block. It’s a minute detail, but it does mean that playing multiplayer does change the game a bit. Another example of that is a section with blocks that fell a second after someone stepped on them. This game is a friendship-breaker lying in wait.

Dying is pretty much inevitable in this game, but the punishment isn’t too harsh. The levels that I saw were only made up of a handful of screens, making even the more challenging ones only a few minutes long. Super Meat Boy is structured this way, and I quite enjoy that. You’re given a relatively short challenge, and you can quickly get back to attempting it after dying. You may want to take care with those deaths though, as you apparently only get 1001 lives to complete the game. With the potential for up to four adventurers dying repeatedly, those lives are sure to melt away quickly.

I enjoyed my short time with 1001 Spikes. As a game that’s focused on presenting various platforming challenges, and giving you multiple characters by which to complete them, it seems like a game that I would want to complete a few times; perhaps even sharing in the joy of digital death with friends via local co-op.

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There’s apparently a competitive multiplayer mode, but it wasn’t in the demo on hand.

1001 Spikes will be available for Wii U, 3DS, PS3, PS4 and PS Vita (hopefully) in 2013. It’s being published by Nicalis and developed by 8bits Fanatics.

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>