Deadly Creatures Preview: Creepy Crawlers
It’s astounding to me that “Deadly Creatures,” or a game similar to it has never been made. At no point in the past 30 years has anyone ever really attempted to combine two things that ten-year-old boys love so much, creepy creatures and video games. It seems like it would be a sure thing, but, up until now, no one has really attempted it, but thanks to THQ’s Rainbow Studios the world finally has a worthy entry into the arachnid simulation genre. Get ready to be creeped out – “Deadly Creatures” is not entirely what it seems.
Sure, “Deadly Creatures” could have been a pretty straightforward game where all you need to do is survive the wilds of the animal kingdom… but when you dig a little deeper there’s a whole lot more going on. You play the game as two of nature’s most dangerous characters (also known as two things you never want to find in your bed), a scorpion, and a tarantula, exploring the desert around their home and unraveling the a mystery of a missing treasure.
The way the levels are set up, you alternate back and for between the two arachnids, with both characters offering a different skill set for their specific levels – the tarantula is the stealthy ninja, and the scorpion is the bruiser tank. As the game progresses you get to unlock different skills and attacks for each of the animals, allowing them to take down bigger enemies and reach new areas of the levels; both of which are key as the story unfolds.
In an interesting twist, the scorpion and tarantula aren’t the main characters in the plot of “Deadly Creatures,” they play a sort of a tangential role in progressing the story forward while they fight to stay alive. As you battle your way through the cracks and crevasses of the Midwest’s desert you are privy to the conversations of two treasure hunters, played by Academy Award nominated Dennis Hopper and Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton, as they do their dirty work to find what they are looking for. It’s quite an interesting take on what has become the standard narrative for video games, where the story is centered around the character that you are playing as, especially since as a tiny creepy-crawly monster you are privy to information that the two gold diggers aren’t – the dramatic irony is almost Shakespearean. As the story progresses, levels are set up, and the plot comes alive courtesy of overheard conversations between Hopper and Thornton’s characters, and the bugs get to partake in their own level of discovery. But that’s enough about the humans; everyone wants more about the scary things in the game.
The idea for “Deadly Creatures” originated from the Wiimote’s ideal simulation of a snake’s slithering and attacking. However, once the development team realized that that was pretty much all you could do with a snake, and they decided to change up the idea a little bit, and center the game around the scorpion and tarantula – fortunately for you snake lovers out there, there is still a rattlesnake in the game playing the role of the tarantula’s nemesis. The team settled on their choices for a lot of the elements of the game based on their proximity to the desert, while the desolate setting of the game may be fictional, it’s still a very atmosphere in the desert around Rainbow Studio’s Pheonix office. Every enemy in the game is real, and can actually be found in nature; from the metallic blue wasp with the second most painful sting in the world, to the horny toad that shoots blood from its’ eyes – nature is so freaky, you couldn’t make better stuff up.
Oddly enough, where gamers have become accustomed to exploring vast worlds that span thousands and thousands of miles, “Deadly Creatures” takes place in less than a mile of space; since the perspective of the game is sized down, the world seems immensely bigger. While it might seem like that means that you’re going to be playing the same area over and over, you won’t, the level design offers a wide variety of different types of levels. There is a gas station that plays a central role in the story that can be seen off in the distance from almost every level of the game, but it takes the span of 10 chapters to finally reach it. “Deadly Creatures” also features 15 different types of enemies, ranging from bugs to lizards; all of which come in different varieties as well as have their own unique finishing move for the scorpion to execute when it defeats them.
“Deadly Creatures” is a little boy’s fantasy, and a little girl’s nightmare. While crawling around on the ground battling ripping off wasps’ wings or avoiding attacking lizards isn’t everyone’s definition of fun, there’s a lot of people out there that should let their inner-child run free and squash some bugs when the game hits store shelves next week.