PAX East 2022: SpiderHeck could be the perfect spiritual successor to the duck game

TinyBuild’s booth at PAX East 2022 was more than just a booth. It was a full-on carnival, with games that would fit into any county fair (you could play mole or fish for trinkets with a crane game) and plenty of actual video games. At the back of the editor’s area, there was something that stood out from the rest of the bright orange decorations: a huge inflatable spider hovered over a set of four televisions, inviting attendees to try out SpiderHeck, which might be my favorite multiplayer brawler since Duck Game.

SpiderHeck is about as dumb as its name suggests. It’s a physics-based platform brawler, which is a long way of saying you beat other players and things fly around. In the case of SpiderHeck, players control spiders (duh) who can pick up weapons and roam the game’s 2D maps shooting webs.

Since this is a four-player brawler, I was thrown into a game with two other PAX attendees – as well as a PR guy – and had a blast. There are games where it helps to know the people you’re playing with to really have a good time, and SpiderHeck isn’t one of them.

As a little spider-dude, you need to be able to knock other spider-dudes out of your game, and it’s all done with SpiderHeck’s outrageous arsenal of weapons. When game players (up to four can be in a single match) appear on a map, weapons appear almost immediately above them. They can range from laser guns to shotguns that fire waves of energy or full-throttle lightsabers.

Whatever you choose to fight, SpiderHeck’s weapons don’t just impact what you aim for. Each weapon has its own type of interaction with the physics of the game. Firing this laser gun threw my little spider backwards, and the bigger the weapon I used, the further I was thrown after the shoot. I even died because I fired my gun and ended up falling off the platform I was on and straight into lava or a bottomless pit.

The only way to save myself whenever this happened was to throw a web and throw myself to the nearest surface. While the rest of the game seemed pretty hard to play – it’s not like a physics-based brawler where you’re a spider will have the same smooth controls as a racing sim – I couldn’t quite place my canvases in the right places. I often shot them much lower than intended, resulting in a one-way trip to a lava pool or other instant death zone.

SpiderHeck’s combat is all about using a combination of wacky physics and weaponry.

Some of SpiderHeck’s levels also play into its physics system, like one that only features five suspended platforms that players can jump onto. Naturally, each platform moves as a player jumps or descends, and if fired, it shakes. Matches on this map turned into the four of us playing yelp every time we fired our guns or got shot at.

Everything SpiderHeck does here reminds me of a slightly simpler version of Duck Game, another irreverent multiplayer brawler. Although this game does not have the same unique physics system as SpiderHeck, both have the same energy. They are not very complicated and are immediately fun. When I was playing the game, I didn’t think about what I was doing with my lightsaber, I just did it. When it involved dropping the thing on another player after being thrown and out of view of the camera, it was impossible not to have a good time.

Luckily, I don’t have to wait to try out SpiderHeck with my friends. The game doesn’t have a release date yet, but the same demo I played at PAX is available to download right now on Steam.

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