Every review of this game has, in one form or another, these words: “This game makes you feel like Spider Man.” They’re right; with each web thwip and solid pow of a punch against a thug’s face, it adds to a classic character that comic legends Stan “The Man” Lee and Jack Kirby have created with its first issue back in 1962. I’ve spent countless hours playing this game, never feeling like I’ve wasted time and always thinking about when I can play again just for the thrill and story of one web swinger.
Insomiac’s Spider Man, developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony, is a third person action-adventure game with stealth elements. With added material from Marvel, Insomniac Games attempted and achieved an alternate storyline for the Web-Swinger with a thematic storyline that grabs you the moment the opening cutscene seamlessly transitions into a tutorial on how to web swing and zip throughout Marvel’s New York City to Warbly Jet’s “Alive.”
The story takes place in present day New York City in Earth-1048, where you play as mild-mannered lab assistant Peter Parker- the Amazing/Fantastic/Ultimate/Spectacular Spider Man! Only this time, he’s already Spider Man and there’s no need to go through everything for Peter’s past. You immediately jump in after finding out that Wilson Fisk- the Kingpin of Crime- is resisting arrest and about to run away when Spider Man intervenes and nabs the cruel crime lord. As you progress, Peter finds himself in a criminal web of lies, racing to grab a bioweapon called “Devil’s Breath” from the wrong hands, and the best of friends turning into the worst of enemies.
Spider Man’s gameplay is polished by ages of trials; the Web Swing as traversal feels just as good as Sunset Overdrive’s with tight controls. The easy method of getting around Spidey’s New York is web swinging and zipping; both ways are effective to gain height and/or speed. Combat is restricted to three buttons: Square for your basic attack and air launch, Triangle to web zip to a close enemy, and Circle to dodge incoming attacks. As for stealth, Square for webbing unexpecting enemies from a perch and Triangle to zip for an incoming kick. What is different about Spider Man here is the use of upgradable gadgets at his disposal. Everything from web shooters, impact webs, drones and web bombs for crowd control, and a zero-gravity device to send thugs up into the air for serious air combos, along with three skill point trees.
Also, there are a plethora of suits that you can equip from numerous eras- the classic suit, Sam Raimi’s Spider Man suit, Marvel Studio’s Stark made Spider Man suit, even renditions from other web swingers like the Scarlet Spider and Spider Man 2099. Each suit has their own unique power- spider legs from the Iron Spider suit to a sound shockwave from the Spider Punk suit- that you can interchange with your favorite suit of choice. Unlock them all with collectables, clear enemy bases, and challenges throughout New York.
Spider Man does suffer from some lack of differentiation in gameplay. While the enemy variety does help change your strategies from mindlessly mashing the square button to gauging whether to use gadgets in encounters, I can only describe it like playing the Batman Arkham series. The dodge and counter timed to the circle button and the quick use of gadgets for stealth and in combat encounters. Add some light environmental missions and puzzle solving with science breaks up the core gameplay and you have “Arkham-itis.”
Insomniac’s Spider Man is a triumph in the superhero game genre. Its story is akin to what Into the Spiderverse has achieved by not making this another Spider Man origin story. Instead, Insomniac made it a continuation of a story that captures the drama and action of comics for gamers. Hopefully, Insomniac will be picked again for a sequel; they’ve proven they can make a Spider Man game that can be action filled like a summer block buster yet smart with its writing and characters we thought we knew. Its choices were strong and with reason, and its ending hits home. It’s a treasure that everyone should own if they have a Ps4.
Insomniac’s Spider Man was released September 7th, 2018 and released for the Play Station 4. It is rated T for teen and priced at $25.00 for regular disk and game of the year for $39.99.
- Written by Johan Wyckoff