Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
I’ll be honest, bugs creep me out. And I don’t mean just a certain kind. I mean all kinds of bugs, from bees to slugs to ants to spiders, especially spiders. For some reason, bugs are just one of those things that make my skin crawl, and I have to admit that playing a game like “Deadly Creatures” brought some of that awkward creepiness into my system. And if anything, that alone makes “Deadly Creatures” a unique, if not memorable game.
“Deadly Creatures” is a unique game because your story is told through the perspective of a Tarantula and a Scorpion, who crawl around linear levels pretty much just searching for each other in the hopes of beating them in epic insect combat. In the background, two guys are searching for buried treasure in the middle of the desert, and your insectoid heroes cross paths with them eventually, leading to a somewhat unique, if humdrum, climax.
The game is only for the Wii, which at first seems like an odd choice to put a game on. But once you get your hands on the controls, it becomes clear that the development team at Rainbow Studios took some time to create a well made control scheme. Pretty much every button on the Wiimote is used to combat enemies in the game, using special attacks specifically designed for the two insects you control. The Scorpion is more of a heavy tank, plowing through enemies with brute strength and great ferocity, while the Tarantula dances around enemies, using hit and run tactics to eliminate larger foes.
Each move needs to be unlocked during the game by killing enemies or finding grubs to eat. The levels are thankfully fairly linear, but also small enough to not make this bug hunting very boring. One problem though is the camera is also fairly finicky, getting stuck in corners every now and again, especially when you’re fighting enemies, which is fairly fluid, if it wasn’t for a quirky camera.
The game shines when fighting the bosses though. You will square off against your insect rival a few times in the game, but you also fight giant lizards, a stalking rattlesnake, and other major predators in the desert. The battles take timing and some luck to hit the weakpoints of your enemy, and it becomes fairly epic and extremely satisfying when you are victorious. While the boss fights do lack variety, they at least make up for it by being exciting.
While the moves are unlocked through combat and collecting stuff, there is really not a lot else going on in the game. While it’s not that short, clocking in at around twelve to fifteen hours, but after that, there is nothing else to do. You can go through the story mode on harder difficulties, and collect any missing grubs to unlock concept art and other collectables, but the motivation is just not there in the end.
The game is a mixed bag graphically. The insects and animals look amazing, act like how they would in real life, and frankly, gave me the creeps a few times. The environments however are a bit bland and repetitive. The desert doesn’t have a lot of color in it, and you will be navigating crevices and caves just to get to a change of scenery in the later levels. It also becomes tough to navigate similar scenery, finding the exact place to jump or crawl when everything looks the same.
The games sound is really well done. The tone of the music is a mix between “Deliverance” and “Godzilla”, and it has a monster movie vibe to it. The hissing snakes, scorpions, lizards and spiders add to the ambiance, as do the light chirps of crickets and grubs and the skittering feet of the creatures themselves. As for the humans, Billy Bob Throton and Dennis Hopper, the only two voices you basically hear, do an adequate job as the treasure hunters. While they don’t have a lot of screen time in the game, as the point of view is from the insects, any time they pop up, you will be in for a treat. It also helps to break the monotony of the insect sounds at times.
“Deadly Creatures” is a great game, but a game that sadly is only a rental. It’s an experience that actually shows not only what the Wii can do control wise, but in general in terms of well designed and unique gameplay. The premise is a bit scary, especially for those squeamish of insects, but the mood and game design are thought out and balanced. If you do have a Wii, play “Deadly Creatures.” It might not give you nightmares from your youth, but it will be a damn fun game to play.