The game consists of sixteen levels, but for each playthrough the entire level layout (general structure, enemies, traps, items) is completely randomized, making it an entirely new game each time. There are also some fixed parameters, such as certain sets of enemies and level themes that are introduced only from a specific level.
The game features four separate “areas”, each of which contains four levels and is set in a different environment and has different enemies.
The main goal is to finish the sixteen levels by locating the exits, but players are encouraged to collect jewels and other types of treasure. The main character can move around, run, jump, hang off ledges and attack enemies with his whip (jumping on top off them works as well). He begins with four “hearts” (health) and when these are used up, the entire game needs to be replayed. The explorer also suffers falling damage when the distance is too high.
The other basic equipment includes a rope to climb up and a number of bombs. The latter is not only used to dispose of enemies such as spiders, bats, snakes, cavemen and the undead, but also to blast through certain parts of the level. They can be used to create a path and often expose treasure hidden in the ground and walls.
In certain sections the explorer can carry a lost girl or an idol (that triggers a trap, such as a huge rolling boulder) to the exit for additional points (or, in the case of the girl, for an additional heart). Sometimes a key can be located to unlock a secret item in a chest, for instance to restore health.
Money can be used to gamble for a secret rewards or in shops for weapons (bombs, a shotgun, a pistol, a spider web gun, a knife) or other items (a flying cape, climbing gloves, springy shoes, a parachute, an axe, a compass). The explorer can also pick up items and smash them to reveal a reward or an enemy, or use the items as a weapon against enemies.
Certain levels are set entirely in the dark and in those sections a box of flares needs to be carried around. Should the player spend too much time on a particular level, a ghost appears that chases him and kills him on contact.
While traveling between the areas, the player can come upon the friendly “Tunnel Man” who – for a price – will dig a shortcut, allowing the player to start the game from one of the later levels rather than from the beginning. Next to the regular game there is also a number of secret rooms to unlock.
Play Spelunky online
You can play Spelunky online here, in a web browser for free!