Close encounters of the creepy-crawly kind
Like most people, I love Saturdays.
Sleeping in, not fighting traffic, and being able to play video games to my heart’s content are what Saturdays are all about.
Of course, there’s also #ScreenShotSaturday — the best part of Saturdays — where gamers can discover new titles in progress to get all excited about from diligent developers eager to share their baby.
In fact, it was one #ScreenShotSaturday where I came across The Mission, shared in an Indie Game Promo Facebook Group, and knew that something really special, really unique was headed our way.
Currently in development by Shephf, The Mission features a lone spider bot stranded on a hostile planet, whose goal is to explore the seemingly monochromatic, extremely dangerous world. Through dashing daring, the spider bot can creep, crawl, swing, and shoot its way across treacherous terrain and perplexing puzzles. The Mission has a free playable demo available on itch.io, but be forewarned: this single level is a LOT harder than it looks — be prepared to die often!
Controls are simple — A&D move the spider bot right and left, while the space bar makes our creepy-crawly friend jump. Left click button shoots bullets while the right click emits a sticky web used to sling from place to place. The controls are where the simplicity ends, however; from the level design to the boss battle and everything in between, The Mission is a challenge that should not be taken lightly.
For one thing, there’s the terrain. The gaps are placed juuuuust so so that jumps will need to be executed exactly, webs will need to be shot perfectly, and the wrong timing will be sure to end in sudden death. The ceiling is “sticky”, so webs will be able to get some traction on them, allowing players to latch on and swing from point A to point B. Easier said than done, however, as the web only shoots so far before it becomes practically unusable. And the floor? Sometimes giant gears will protrude from them, enabling the spider bot to jump on and hitch a ride. Don’t stay too long, however, as getting caught between a gear’s tooth and a hard place will end unfavorably.
Next up, the enemies. The small fry are straightforward enough to deal with — just keep shooting until they die (they hover somewhat predictably so it’s not too hard) — but careful, as they shoot back, and they aren’t the ones who are outnumbered (hint, it’s spider bot).
It’s a completely different story for the big boss, however; for such a short demo, this boss packs a punch! The boss has several stages, and the strategy changes up depending on the phase. This ludicrously leggy creature will shoot bullets at first, only to launch half its body into the air for you to websling onto. After that, it’s all about dodging lasers, even getting picked up by its long legs at one point for a dangerously close encounter of the creepy kind. I can’t say I was surprised by this level of detail, but I was definitely delighted by the battle design. What a treat!
Speaking of design, it’s the animation in The Mission that actually caught my eye in the first place — it’s absolutely stunning. The hand-drawn environments and characters are a visual triumph. The movement of the spider bot feels deliberately charming — a small being on a mission, unaware of its surroundings yet confident in its capabilities. And the boss? It feels almost real — not because of the art, but because of the movement. The legs move in a disgusting manner, like a real centipede, and writhe quickly when hit. The boss battle was hard enough without being absolutely mesmerized by the movement, but I couldn’t help but die a few times simply to watch the legs move. It was hypnotizing!
If you don’t have an aversion to all things with eight or more legs, you’re going to want to keep your eye on this one. From the animation to the absolute challenge, The Mission already delivers in spades, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. Be sure to pick up the free demo, and if you’re feeling generous, consider supporting the developer by donating for the download on itch.io.