By Chris Matel
Indiana may hate snakes, but, for me, spiders and scorpions? [shivers]...
Spiders and scorpions: two of the least welcomed creatures in a desert home—though, having certain arachnids around can be more beneficial than dangerous. Spurred from a late night dream of a slithering Wii-mote, Rainbow Studio's Jordan Itkowitz's vision for a game utilizing the motion capabilities of the Wii and serious gameplay from an animal's perspective has solidified in the upcoming Deadly Creatures title.
Right from the start we noticed the uncharacteristic darkness of the game, especially for the light-hearted console. The front-end title screen showcases a simple presentation with darker lighting effects and various animals and insects crawling about as if they were in a terrarium. It's a small detail, but it sets the mood for the game.
Great, I play as a spider or scorpion? [more shivers]...
After learning about the premise and development of the game it was time to check out the first chapter. Itkowitz described Deadly Creatures as a serious take on an animal-based world. Through a short cutscene we were introduced to a struggle between a tarantula and a scorpion. This struggle set up the story as the two represent warring factions of the animal world, as well as the two characters you'll be playing. While working to survive the bite of rattlesnakes and other predators as either creature, you'll investigate the crime story unfolding above you as a pair of humans follow through on a dubious plan.
First, we were introduced to the story as the tarantula. The hairy spider uses stealth as his main skill and is more about agility than brutality; you do have fighting abilities, however, which become upgraded with more combos as you progress through the game. The introductory level played out like a tutorial as we learned the Wii-specific controls, waggle included. Different motions of the Wii-mote produced various attacks, and felt appropriately implemented, not obligatorily forced. As the spider you're also able to climb walls, though, from what was shown, it appeared less free-roaming and useful, and more scripted; it just didn't feel like you were a spider. It will be interesting to see how this ability evolves for the entirety of the game: more freedom, or continually restrictive?
After snacking on some larvae, climbing walls and avoiding rattlesnake strikes with Nunchuk dodging, it was time to give the scorpion a spin. Unlike the spider, the scorpion is more about combat than strategy—you have a freaking spear for tail and vices for hands, so it only makes sense! The scorpions pincers not only act as effective weapons, but shields as well, and are augmented with motion-activated stinger strikes. While the spider aspect may have felt a little shy on capturing the abilities of the arachnid, the scorpion portion felt more akin to the abilities of the creature.
A non-colorful or mini-game obsessed game on the Wii? Finally...
The game looked good with fairly detailed creatures in-game—at least as much as the Wii is capable of of producing. The darker tone is certainly appreciated, and integrating a story happening above you (literally), with activity that impacts you even if it doesn't directly concern your character, is a different way of story-telling that works with the title.
Itkowtiz said the game could have been done on the 360 and PS3 platforms, but the idea is to use the Wii's capabilities to create engaging, interactive gameplay. The control scheme looked good for what was shown, but we're just a bit weary about replayability.