Home Strategy Spelunky survival guide: It is possible, I promise!

With the recent re-release of Spelunky in pretty graphics, what better time to help new and old players die slightly less often than before?  I, for one, could not think of a better time.* With these tips, maybe you’ll even win the game once or twice.

Ah, Spelunky, womb raider and destroyer of tempers since 2009. Rarely do you find a well-made game as willing to intercourse with your soul if you don’t exactly follow its rules, and often when you do. Any mistake will easily cost you the entire run. The game appeals to our fundamental weakness of blaming everything but our failures for every death, when it’s so totally our fault. Well, and those fucking yetis. Hard, yet so darn addicting. Stockholm, anyone? Either way, behold the five tenets of dying slightly less often.

1. Be. Fucking. Careful.

My first and clearly most important tip is simple. Be careful. Surely sprinting will get you to places faster (and allow you to run over 1-block gaps). It will also get you killed really really fast. Nothing is worse than dying because you didn’t give yourself the time to scout out your surroundings and plan the most nonlethal route through them. This also applies to not taking any risks that you don’t have to take. Use a bloody rope if need be, don’t try to stomp a man-eating plant, and always assume there is a spider in that pot over there, because there always is. Your top priority at all times is staying alive, anything else must be weighed for its risk against that goal.

2. Use your supplies!

Put together, the supplies wasted in my 487 deaths would probably put America’s military arsenal to shame. As in, both continents. North and South. The point is, put those supplies to use. Use bombs to clear out paths and treasure and throw ropes for… rope related things. There is certainly going to be some more rope in the next crate, as shown by every single one I open. Also, you can drop supply items by vaulting onto a ledge, which can be helpful for setting off traps. You can then retrieve and put away the item.

3. Don’t pick a fight you can’t win.

Every one gets chosen by the thug life once in a while, but that doesn’t mean you have to force it. If you’re uncertain whether or not you can defeat your opponent (Spelunky’s hitboxes are a bit funny) you should back off and keep your distance altogether. Many enemies can be defeated in alternate ways, most of which rely on sticking a bomb in their face. Also, shopkeepers are evil. Robbing them is fun and gives a free shotgun, but I wouldn’t attempt it unless you have a pistol or better, or can telefrag them. You can use items originally put up for sale, but make sure that the guy’s definitely dead. They’ll stand up in a moment, disarm and murder you if allowed to do so.

4. Those nihilists might have a point after all

In a game where death is always due to those fucking yetis, pretty ladies are as useful as rocks. The point is, don’t treat damsels like they’re made out of paper. Since you must carry them anyway, (feminists please look away) they are excellent throwing ammunition and can be used to take various punishment to the face so that you don’t have to. They can withstand 3 points of damage without dying, and even if they do, Kali will instantly bestow a gift upon you once they’re sacrificed. Speaking of which, I’ve often found the item gained more useful than an additional HP, unless you’re already near death. I’m sure they won’t mind.

5. Greed is (sometimes) good

It’s tempting both to ruthlessly go after treasure and to ignore it altogether, neither of which you should do. More money equals more stuff to be bought in shops, and there are even tales of a particularly greedy person coming to help the best of treasure hunters. The point is, pick up as much as you can without killing yourself and using up all of your supplies. Shopkeepers can be nice if you pay for the stuff you take, and a cape is never bad to have. If you have the money to buy it, of course. Besides, would you rather pay off the new shortcut in 3 trips or in 20?


*TTT would like to mention that this article was written purely on merit of that release and not that its author spent the last two weeks off the grid with nothing but Spelunky and writing articles to keep her busy. Notably, the old version, so don’t blame me for overlooking any details specific to the new one.

2 replies to this post
  1. Just a quick correction, damsels can only withstand 3 points of damage. That is, if they take an arrow and a whip to the face, they will die. I’ve whipped dead so many of them…

    • Hmm. In Classic, they can eat a full two arrows and walk away, together with not taking damage from the whip altogether.

      Not to say that I didn’t get my fair share of damsels killed thanks to stupidity, though. Especially that one time, when I didn’t know the temple yet and picked up the gold statue first…

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