Arachnophilia: The Spider Web Game


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Rating: 4.6/5 (170 votes)
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PsychotronicArachnophiliaFrom Teale Fristoe at Littlegrey Media, Arachnophilia is an arcade-style simulation of a night in the life of a spider. Your goal is to survive as long as possible, your venue is the empty midnight space between tree branches, and your method is to trap and devour the hapless insects who blunder into your web. It's a simple but sophisticated game, made with a deep love for both arachnids and early 80s arcade games like Tempest. There have been other games about spiders, but never one that so thoroughly celebrated the beauty and deadly elegance of their work.

Control your eight-legged heroine with the mouse. Click on a part of your web to scurry there using the shortest available path. To spin new strands of webbing, just draw a line from one strand to another. You can design your web any way you like, but you have a limited amount of web fluid available, indicated by a gauge on the right. To replenish it, you must eat bugs, who fly in more or less randomly from the background. Once an insect has caught itself on a piece of your web, click on it, and the spider will feed. Meal time also restores your life gauge, which is constantly depleting. If your life reaches zero, your game is over. To help you keep pace with the action, the game keeps your commands in a queue, like Diner Dash, displaying blue circles on bugs yet to be eaten and blue lines where webs are yet to be spun. Press [space] to interrupt the queue when you need to react to new events.

ArachnophiliaThere are ten different species of edible critters, all with a different effect on the game. Flies are your staple diet, reliable and unlikely to damage your web unless you neglect to clear them away regularly. Most of the others are larger and stronger, more nutritious if you can catch them, but requiring a stronger weave to hold them back. The first time you encounter a stag beetle, for example, he is likely to shred your web pretty handily, and you can hardly afford to have your livelihood shredded. Successfully trap and nosh such a monster, however, and you'll be temporarily blessed with extra-strong golden webbing. Each type of flying pest is balanced nicely between threat and reward, except for the bees, who grin like maniacs and are just bad news in every way.

If you get tired of having your hard weaving work destroyed by the passing horde, you can always indulge in Art Mode, where you have unlimited webbing and an undisturbed canvas, as well as total bee control, for when you do want to delete a web strand. Come to think of it, more games should have "total bee control" as a feature.

Analysis: Fristo, who is responsible for everything in the game but the music (a welcome relaxing country number supplied by Dig Your Own Grave webmaster Oliver Marsh) is an excellent craftsman. The crisp, luminous graphics serve the needs of the arcade action while highlighting the natural geometric beauty of your web designs. There could be more detail in the creatures, but they animate nicely, and too much texture would have been distracting.

The gameplay balance is superb. The more of the screen you canvas with webs, the more food you can ensnare; but also the more territory you must maintain and defend. The variety of enemies keeps things fresh throughout, although it must be said that the action is not exactly nail-biting. It's more of a game of rhythm and strategy, rather than reflexes. A single hasty new web line is unlikely to stop a charging dragonfly, but planning a solid structure for your sticky home will keep you flush with tasty insect snacks over the long haul.

But Arachnophilia's greatest strength is in its ability to transform you, to make you cunningly aware of the fears and hopes of a creature totally alien from yourself. You are role playing a predator, an icky, hairy-legged murderer of thousands. Yet if you refuse the massacre, you die. This might very well color your next real-life spider encounter with a dot of sympathy or even respect. Glowing with the bright, competitive soul of a vintage arcade game, Arachnophilia doesn't take itself too seriously. It doesn't posture as an "art game", yet it expands your world in a direction that isn't marked on the compass. "Love of spiders" indeed.

Play Arachnophilia

40 Comments

Pretty entertaining - for about two minutes and then it gets more and more boring. You basically have to do the same thing over and over and pretty fast. Got me totally uninterested in about 5 minutes.

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I got to the fireflies level, then at the end my web was shredded into nothingness by a hapless bee. OH THE HUGE MANATEE!

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Was fun until level 6, when suddenly half my web fell apart.

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With a better strategy

Only create new webs around the sides of the screen, because most of your new webs are supported directly by the trees and not by other strands (so no chain reactions of damage). Also don't bother with the middle of the screen - it's impossible to eat absolutely everything.
And eat the bugs in roughly this order:
Firefly + moths that follow it
Queen Bee
Dragonfly
Stag Beetle
Butterfly
Hummingbird
Bee
smaller bugs

I got up to the

Bat level. But didn't catch one :)
12887 points...

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snazans Author Profile Page May 18, 2008 10:55 AM

My web totally fell apart, too, after two stag beetles hit it at the same time. No way to recover, either, as I had only enough "web juice" to cover the bottom 12 pixels of the game screen. Very interesting gameplay, but can collapse very quickly like, um, a spiderweb.

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suedehead May 18, 2008 11:09 AM

Tom's strategy is great -- build around two corners, maximum, as catching everything can often be more harmful than letting some go. But you should really eat the bees before the moths. Keep a dragonfly around for when you catch a stag beetle.

17549 -- I caught one bat.

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I almost beat your record, Tom: 12,484 points. And I managed to catch - and eat - a bat. Thanks for the tip, it really helped.

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aninymouse May 18, 2008 1:51 PM

first anyone who got the referance in my name congrats second i also had the problem where

my web completley fell apart when two fireflys fit it in the center at the same time and then there was a flood of moths all at the center of the web and it all colapsed

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Then a new record is needed: 63,000 points! Essentially I used the above strategy again, and played more efficiently by making better choices about what bugs to eat in which order.

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Great review, Psycho :)

What a calming and addicting game! I find myself playing over and over again. Well... I'm about to: first I had to comment after my web was shredded by 3 stag beetles!

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Is there a way to prevent your web from collapsing if something (say, a bee) hits it in the exact center. I had only built in one corner, but then a bee came along and hit the center and my whole web fell apart!

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Using the strategy described above I managed to get 53,126 points. With lots of "spiderman invites batman for dinner" ;)

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Superslash Author Profile Page May 18, 2008 11:15 PM

Hmm... nope, still hate spiders.

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58,003. The key is to reinforce the heck out of a couple small areas of web rather than spread out too soon.

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Don't build around the center, because then it will collapse if the center of the web breaks. Build at the edges where you're supported by tree branches. Also, build some strands that are supported only by branches (going from one wall to another), so that the edges aren't held up by the center

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fcadete Author Profile Page May 19, 2008 7:21 AM

Good review, although I think a reference is due to the "Facts" tab for each new insect. It throws in some trivia about the bugs you are eating :).

Anyway, as to strategies, I tend to totally disregard the initial webbing. I mainly put webbing in all four corners, leaving the center unimpeded. AS the game goes by I close the circle on the center. It is very useful because many insects fly by unimpeded, so your webbing doesn't fall down due to excessive weight.

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16,857, first try :D , ate two bats, then got bored and tried to see how many bees my web could hold. Great game, could do with more powerups though.

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Freezes up on my system (XP, Firefox). Too bad, looks neat.

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I've started to have the freezing problem as well. >.

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What happened with me is I got a fair ways, up to the butterfly, and then a few things happened and next thing I know my little spider has next to no web juice & two little web strands. It was depressing, after all this frenetic activity, to just sit there and watch the little critter shrivel away and die. It was kind of creepy, too. I don't like this game so much.

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This is a great game! Up there with sim-ant in terms of fun yet party realistic bug simulations!

I think one thing I wish it did differently was allow you to bite and wrap up bugs for later, like real spiders.

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Excellent game, but the freezing problem is messing with me. Consistently freezes at the bee level in Firefox and sometimes around the queen bee level in IE, so I haven't been able to get past that.

My problem is generally that so many bugs get caught in my web that one tiny bee can completely destroy the whole thing, sending an entire wave of bugs out of my web at the same time and crashing the browser.

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Dig Your Own Grave May 19, 2008 7:39 PM

Glad everyone is enjoying the game! And thanks for the great review Psychotronic.

Those of you that are having trouble with the game freezing, make sure you have the most recent Flash Player (version 9.0.124.0). We've had reports of people's games locking up, and the problems were solved once they updated their player.

If that doesn't work, lemmie know!

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OrigamiMarie Author Profile Page May 19, 2008 8:48 PM

Yup, I had problems from the very beginning with it freezing up, and so I tried getting the very latest Flash, and that did indeed fix it.
I have been able to get up to 16,000 or so with one main strategy:

Build four very dense "corner webs" that only rely on the diagonal across the corner. Just keep reinforcing these and if you get the chance, start building dense web between them. Filling the middle is not really very helpful, since you don't really want to catch every big baddie that comes through.

I can get a bat this way, but usually I starve shortly after that (I think the number of flies goes way down?). Also, of course, things start really destroying my web at this point, so I can't really catch food.

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Heh, I got up to ~65,000 points and level 20-something before I decided to call it quits. Actually, it's paused and ready to continue, but I think that's enough franticness for one day ;) I had one super, super close call when I only had one tiny web left but kept getting ladybugs just as I was about to die and no flies were landing for me to create more webs, but I dug my way out of the hole and am in a place to go indefinitely again.

Strangely enough at these higher levels, the most dangerous thing seems to be the butterfly; you end up not eating them very often because it takes so long, but then before you know it there are 15 of them.

I am also building super reinforced corner webs and then building between them until I get a dense web with a ~circular hole in the middle. One thing that seemed to help when big bugs are knocking things down is to leave one corner empty until you get a dragonfly, stag beetle, and are full on web, and then quickly building a super reinforced yellow corner web all at once. Then if things go really badly, at least that corner will hold out long enough to bootstrap yourself back up again...

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I wasn't too keen on this game.

By repeatedly clicking all over the place, I managed to get a "NaN" score. Not sure if that was + or - infinity though.

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tenkuchima Author Profile Page May 20, 2008 7:30 PM

a realy great and addicting game. I love it. the one problem is that it seems a bit ubalanced, sometimes no bugs come, then ill get 3 queen bees and a firefly. then while im trying to despretly fix my web, a bat comes through and destroys me but other than that a great game.

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This really made me appreciate not being a spider.

It's a really great game though, I have never cought a bat... yet

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Anonymous May 21, 2008 9:19 PM

I found that by only making threads from branch to branch rather then thread to thread makes a web that's much more resistant to chain damage. It seems that chain damage takes out each thread supported by the threads that break, if you make a large web in the middle, it's almost completely supported by it's own threads. So it pays more to save up your silk to reach across with large threads rather than a bunch of small ones.

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colleen May 28, 2008 1:13 PM

I love this game! The bat at the end is amazing! Thank you so much for making this, keep up the good work

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IvoLucien July 2, 2008 3:38 AM

Folks have expressed enough interest in my strategy over at digyourowngrave that I've created a graphic of my web building technique - http://remarque.org/~ivo/Arachnophilia-Ivo-strategy.jpg

Admittedly that's only one part of the whole strategy, but I think it's one that's hardest to describe in text. My high score is 445k, achieved over 3 days and about 5 hours of play. Yay pause button!   ^_^

Another aspect of the game that's challenging:

Make sure to not build *too much web* since the game slows down based on web complexity and number of bugs on screen. Early on you need three corners (ish), then later you only need (and can handle) only two corners.

And thank you Psychotronic for reviewing a great game.

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Well i got a 26 000 score ate 3 bats, got kinda bored because my web was just too good, so i let the fireflies and moths take it away.
my good web was

I used the right half of the beginning web. I went from the center of the web to the twigs on the outside to cut the space in between the beginning threads by at least 1/4, then i connected all the threads by going in tight semi circles. After that just random threading for maximum density... i caught the bat on the first try and i barely ever lost any web at all!! on the edges sometimes on the left got whacked unluckily by a stag beetle and got ripped to shreads, but easy fix ;).
i did this wrong once and, i was getting pretty far till a bee, hit 1 thread... and my whole entire web was destroyed, no joke, i dont understand how this happened.

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Reason for webs collapsing

It is because there can be no convex angles, or parts that stick out into nowhere and are unsupported, like the top triangle of an A. So then it collapses and then the bottom of the A (trapezoid-ish part) is left sticking out so it collapses too. This can cause a huge chain reaction which kills your entire web.

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i was pretty addicted to the game. then i caught a bat. now i'm not any more. Good game overall, I love DYOG =)

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Well, I used Jon's Strategy and it was awesome. Anyway my high score was 27689 and i was on level 16 or so. I caught a total of 4 bats =) To everyone who finds it hard to catch a bat, just...

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Almost all of my webs fell off after a bunch of moths attacked and then I died with just a bit of webbing on the corners and no food to eat :(

Poor spider had a good life then turned homeless and died.

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kittykittymewmew April 10, 2010 11:44 AM

thanks for the tips tom! i reached a new high score using the corner tip, 474! (i am REALLY bad at this game)

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kittykittymewmew April 10, 2010 2:51 PM

i have made a strategy called the diamond strategy!

make your screen a pretty diamond pattern with random threads across it. all across the game eat bugs and use the thread to add more lines to your diamond. trust me, this works i got to level 9 (i always die on the stag beetle level) and got my new high score, somewhere in the 5000s! just make your screen like this: http://i43.tinypic.com/2qlsry1.jpg that was when i was ACTUALLY playing, you catch like a million bugs with this.

heh..now im not so bad....

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This was a fun game, but it gets kinda repetitive after a while. The strategy I used was to

Make a lot (Aka cover up most of the screen) of webbing lines from the center, like a real spider would do and then started making again, lots of web in the upper left corner. I always made sure to have a line of web coming down the center as to not destroy my web. The most threatening thing was a bat, because otherwise I had no problems.

My web was covering the upper part of the screen leaving absolutely no openings. Golden web, normal web, all were mixed up. I also made a little refuge in a corner. If ever the god of spiders decided to hate me, I would refuge in that corner and eat whatever came to start building my big web again.

I reached level 12, ate two bats (One of them was red... weird) and had the grand total of 21708. After a while I decided that it became boring and let 12 bees and a queen bee destroy my web

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