There’s an indescribable rush to the first ten minutes of a video game that you know just nailed it. Especially with games based on beloved comic book IP, a genre with a history for producing more lows than highs.
Right now, the biggest high is Marvel’s Spider-Man, developed by Insomniac Games for the PlayStation 4. And mere minutes after proving it can do whatever a spider can, with unbelievably smooth swinging and intuitive combat, Insomniac Games pays homage to Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, ensuring the game isn’t forgetting its roots either.
Minor spoilers for Marvel’s Spider-Man ahead.
At the start of Spider-Man, Peter Parker swings into town and right into the thick of it, ending up at Wilson Fisk’s lavish headquarters. In the lobby where most of the chaos has happened, players are tasked with rescuing civilians from crushing debris in a mechanic introducing them to the game’s QTE (“quick-time event” — thank you, Shenmue).
That’s when it happens. No more than twenty minutes have passed when a simple, visual homage to an important part of Spidey history takes place, right there, in plain view and in a way no player can ever miss.
You know the one. This one:
Last year, I wrote about the significance of “the lift” when it was recreated with Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Homecoming. But the gist of the thing is thus: In Amazing Spider-Man #33, the climax to the three issue storyline “If This Be My Destiny…!”, deliver an antidote to a very ill Aunt May (as part of a plot by Doc Ock).
Underneath wreckage and with water cascading down that could drown him, Spidey musters up all of his strength to break free.
Whereas Homecoming director Jon Watts wisely engineered a whole movie to carry the moment to imbue it with the same metaphors Lee and Ditko intended, Insomniac, in dealing with an older Spider-Man (but no less in over his head at all times) wisely put their moment front and center of the game.
It could have come at a more important juncture in the story, sure, but this isn’t a movie. It’s a video game. Why waste time? We’re not getting any younger.
Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 is available now.