Some games have secret endings that people don't uncover until days, weeks, or even months after they've come out. Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon is trying to one-up them all. You won't be able to beat it unless the real moon—yes, the one in the sky—is glowing just right.
The net effect of that gameplay element? Nobody will be able to solve the eight-legged freak-quel's final puzzle, which will unlock its true ending, until at least a month after the game's release. Even then, developer Tiger Style isn't guaranteeing anything, given that players will need to have figured out the game's mysterious inner workings by then.
"The game knows where you are in the real world—knows what the weather is, what the conditions are, day/night, rainy/clear," Tiger Style creative director Randy Smith told me in an interview during GDC. "That's all mirrored into the game world. To beat the game, you have to go do something in the game world at a certain condition. You have to understand it enough to know where to go and which condition it is."
"Even if it only takes players, like, three days to understand the game, they'll still have to go through the moon phases, because moon phases happen in order in the real world and that's how they happen in the game."
There are six main puzzles woven through Spider's 30 levels, but there are also tons of insects to catch and devour, many of which vary based on time of day and weather conditions. You won't, in other words, just be waiting around for the big dumb moon to drag its lazy idiot self into the right position. Smith is hoping players will use the time to explore and dig up the game's multitude of purposefully obscure secrets—some of which will play into solving the seventh main puzzle, which relies on moon phases... somehow. All these bizarrely involved secrets lend Spider a Fez-like quality or, perhaps more aptly, a hint of indie mega-hit Superbrothers: Swords and Sworcery, which also used moon phases to power one of its sections.
"It's good that players have to revisit it because every time you do, it might be a different condition," Smith explained. "It might be raining. You might mostly play at night, but now it's day. You'll be able to find all sorts of different insects. You'll be able to get to certain places in the world that you couldn't get to before."
That might sound a little obnoxious (artificial gating is rarely fun), but Smith told me it's about giving players more to do in the long run and—perhaps more importantly—creating an effect, a feeling.
"We want to blur the line between game in reality," he said. "We want it to feel a little bit creepy when you're playing the game and things are happening outside your real-world window. We want the game to feel like it's looking over your shoulder."
Given that Spider takes place in a not exactly bright and sunny mansion with ties to a real world secret society (Smith told me you can even look up said secret society's code language and use it to read messages in the mansion), it makes sense that creep factor is a high priority. And certainly, the idea of real things that go bump in the night makes fear a bit more authentic than, say, a ghost monster with used syringes for fingers who belches centipedes from time-to-time.
Fortunately, you're a spider, so even monsters are irrationally afraid of you. Well, probably. I know I am.
Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon will be out on Steam and mobile devices soon, probably within the next month or two. As with everything else about this strange little game, Smith said it's gonna depend on the moon phase at the time, given that starting in some moon phases will make the game take even longer to beat. The moon sure is a pain, huh? I guess it could be worse, though. At least this time it's not threatening to wipe out all life in three days. Also, it doesn't have a giant, spooky face. That's good too.