A starter guide for the secret-filled sequel
30 hours into Spelunky 2, I’ve beaten the game exactly once – and come close countless other times.
While much of that time was admittedly spent exploring potential branching routes and figuring out what’s up with certain elusive NPCs, straight up, I didn’t see the credits until my 400th or so run.
Coming in, I knew I’d be rusty at spelunking, and I expected a long period of acclimation before I could quickly, reliably, efficiently carve through the sequel’s procedurally-generated deathtraps, but goddang! This game is brutal. Not just for novices, who are in for a world of hurt, but also those of us who put dozens of hours into Spelunky, toppled Olmec, and survived the trip to hell. The struggle is real – again!
We’ll be uncovering secrets in Spelunky 2 for years to come, but for now, here are my tips. I’ve ordered them based on the stages I’ve seen – in the order they appear – but I’m missing several in my journal.
The further you scroll down, the more spoilery it’ll be – including a pic of the boss at the bottom.
- By default, you’ll always run in Spelunky 2 and “slow down” with the right trigger. You can change this to the old style (walking normally and holding the trigger down to run) in the control settings from the pause menu.
- Content-wise, you can’t see everything in Spelunky 2 in one go. You’ll be able to take branching paths multiple times during a generic just-get-to-the-end-alive run.
- If you’re in a position to safely kill an enemy or at least throw it off-screen to a less chaotic spot, do it. The sequel has a way of tightly stacking stationary traps and roaming enemies on top of each other. It’s best to systematically deal with killable threats while you can – while the coast is clear – before things get messy and you scramble. Learn the AI’s patterns and exploit them to avoid taking “cheap” hits.
- If you hang from a ledge and look down while throwing a rope, the rope will go downward instead of up by default.
- The powerpack in the shop will make your bombs huge and cause your whip to strike with fire (a perk with many potential uses). Don’t blow yourself to smithereens!
- You can unequip items like the jetpack and cape by holding down and pressing R1.
- The Ghost will come for you at the three-minute mark, or shortly after you – or someone, or even something – destroy the evil-looking Curse Pot. You can pick it up, set it down as needed, and take it near the exit to safely bust it open and claim its diamond. That said, the Ghost comes quick – and it can split into faster mini-ghosts.
- Spike Shoes are the best bang-for-your-buck item. They let you easily one-hit-kill stomp most walking enemies, they’re useful against bigger foes (like the first mini-boss) who don’t take normal whip damage, and they let you freely tread on small spikes in the Jungle and slippery ice in the Ice Caves.
- Animals can be tamed. If you hop on them, they’ll run wild before eventually settling down and giving you full control. (Poor fools – they don’t know what’s coming.)
- If you ever see a Leprechaun and steal his clover, you can find a hidden pot of gold. When you’re close to the buried treasure, you’ll see a rainbow effect – bomb away! The clover will also give you extra time before the ghost shows up. That’s why you get a freebie in challenge rooms.
- Be careful when exiting mid-level caves and rooms – there can sometimes be something deadly on the other side and you might have a small window to react.
- You can replay the tutorial and there’s a speedrun challenge. Back at camp, pop into the first door on the left and follow the path inside to reach the tutorial room.
- There’s a Quick Select option on the character screen. It has cute pixel art! You can unlock more playable characters by busting open coffins in the various stages/biomes.
- There are three main shortcuts in Spelunky 2 leading to stage 1-4, 3, and 5.
- The shortcut to the Ice Caves gave me bad flashbacks. You have to bring a Hired Hand (and somehow keep him alive!), and later, the golden key. You might need a miracle. If you pick up and set down an NPC, they’ll run around and tucker themselves out. That’s your cue to hoof it for the level exit before they wake up and die tragically.
- The first area, Dwelling, is essentially the Mines but with a few new nasty foes like burrowing Cave Moles and a one-hit-kill rolling caveman miniboss named Quillback.
- The biggest nuisance is the old Arrow Trap. The same principles still apply, but I’ll add that they’re more prevalent in Spelunky 2 and you’ll always, always want to have a rock, a skull, a pot, or even a pug or holdable enemy ready to be dropped to set them off. I mean it – you don’t want to be in a no-win situation by entering a level empty-handed.
- If you ever see wild turkeys, hop on them and take a ride – if you survive, they’ll become tame and you can use them as a double-jumping mount. You’re meant to corral them into a shady guy’s enclosure to get his key, but forget that. If you blow up a turkey with a bomb, it’ll turn into a one-heart meal. Every time I can, I get two roaming turkeys at once for 2HP. It’s not worth taking the third turkey – the one already in the dude’s pen – or he’ll want revenge. Make sure to cook the birds out of his sight.
- Any source of fire, including torches, will also cook turkeys. Be careful though!
- If you need to clear a mound of skulls that’s directly embedded into the floor and can’t be whipped, you can chuck an object diagonally down to destroy it. Get that treasure.
- On level 1-4, you’ll always have to face Quillback, a miniboss. If he sees you, he’ll roll like a boulder and it’s a one-hit kill. Try to pick up a rock or skulls, hang out on the ladders, and throw them diagonally down/left or down/right as he walks around. It’s the safest bet. When he’s dead, he’ll drop some bombs (don’t get blown up by spamming shotgun blasts) and a cooked turkey. It’s worthwhile to kill him.
- At the bottom, you’ll be able to go left to head into the Jungle or go right for Volcana.
- There’s a secret shop in the lower middle area of level 1-4 that you might’ve caught a glimpse of. To access it, you’ll need to curse yourself with the ghost-faced Curse Pot.
- If you’re playing alone and want to curse yourself, I’d suggest setting the Curse Pot on a bone pile, whipping the lower tile, and running so the pot lands on your head. It’s best to do this after killing Quillback since a Ghost will spawn once the pot breaks.
- Inside the shop, you’ll find three expensive presents (I’m talking 20,000 gold) and the Ghist Shopkeeper. (That’s not a typo.) Let the proprietor kill you to fill in a journal entry.
- BIGGEST TIP ALERT: Watch out for Snap Traps that blend into the scenery. They look like bear traps, and they’re the most unexpected way to die in Spelunky 2. Whip ’em, drop something onto them, throw an enemy – do whatever you can to set them off. Before progressing further downward, literally always scan for Snap Traps. Trust me.
- Similarly, the skull-faced blocks (Spear Traps) blend the eff in with all of the lush scenery. They’re particularly deadly because they can stab you from above, below, left, and right. I like to purposely set them off and back away before running past them.
- If you pop into a cave entrance and push a block out of the way to rescue a teal-haired girl, you’re probably wondering what the deal is. There are three to save– Parsley, Parsnip, and Parmesan – and the more you rescue, the better your reward. You’ll collect your prize (either rope, bombs, or a bomb box if you got all three of ’em) in Olmec’s Lair.
- The Witch Doctor is my most-feared enemy, and I’ve seen some shit. If they get a line of sight on you, they’ll put a curse over your head that causes damage, and their floating skull can chase you through the terrain if you get too close and aggro it. The best strategy is to bide your time and, if you’re weaponless, jump on their head, pick them up, and chuck them into outer space. Don’t be afraid to bomb a new path forward if Witch Doctors make you uneasy near spikes or vines. These vile guys are run-enders.
- The ladybug-like Fire Bugs looks threatening but you can just jump on ’em. Easy.
- Don’t hang around and stare at lava pools for too long – leaping lava men (hilariously named Magmar) can mess up your day. They’re also dropped by the flying red Imps.
- There’s a suspicious alien drill in Volcana that can be turned on with the Udjat Eye.
- Once the drill burrows, you can climb down to the bottom of the level with a chain and you’ll see the normal exit and a door surrounded be red brick. It’s a special subzone.
- Inside the vampire castle, you’ll find four coffins (one of which contains the unlockable character Coco Von Diamonds), lots of arrow traps, and a Crown guarded by Vlad, a Gary Oldman-looking dark lord. He’s beefy, and every time he takes a hit, he’ll teleport, so open up the coffins for an army of Hired Hands. If you kill him, you’ll get Vlad’s Cape, which lets you float and double-jump. The Crown is used in Tide Pool to get Excalibur.
- If you saved the green-haired women in the Jungle, run to the right and climb up to collect your rope or bomb reward. I won’t say how long it took me to figure this out.
- If you’re just looking to get past Olmec without anything fancy, immediately run to the right after the cutscene and let him smash downward. There will be a perfectly-sized opening next to him that you can slip in and out of as he busts the ground below. On the final attack that will destroy the floor you’re on, be prepared to fall onto Olmec’s head. If you don’t and you drop straight down to the next floor, you’ll take fall damage.
- After Olmec clears the first ground floor, he’ll open up to reveal… alien tech? Yeah. In this form, he’ll float around and fire off a volley of bombs at regular intervals. To my knowledge, there’s no way to hurt him with traditional weapons. Just run to the right.
- The first door on the right is the entrance to Tide Pool. Directly below it is the (more challenging) Temple of Anubis. If you take a shortcut to Olmec’s Lair from camp, you won’t fight him. He’ll be gone. You’ll have exactly enough bombs to safely reach the Temple, although you may need to hang off a ledge before falling to the door.
- If you want to kill Olmec and get the Ankh, you’ll need to bomb his thrusters (preferably with sticky bombs from the giant spiders in the Jungle) while he’s floating around. This will cause him to plummet, and you can get him to smash the ground and eventually fall into lava. You can then use his head to enter a cave door while he’s sinking. This process is much easier said than done, and you’ll probably need extra rope.
- After entering one of the (many) doors via Olmec’s head, you’ll enter a huge subterranean area with treasure to collect. The Ankh is located at the top. You can also unlock Manfred Tunnel by freeing him from a coffin in the top-left area. Once you’re ready, exit the sub-level on the right and you’ll be able to travel to Tide Pool or the Temple of Anubis. Like in Spelunky 1, the Ankh will revive you if you die on a run.
- The ornate poles kind of blend into the background art, but you can climb them.
- If you see a suspicious box, it could be housing a Hermit Crab. These little freaks shoot poison bubbles, and in Spelunky 2, poison is an absurdly punishing status effect. (A few other enemies, like the old Scorpions, can inflict it too.) You can cure poison by bringing a pug with you to the level exit and walking through to the next level.
- The spiky Octopy enemies will shoot ink, hop, and frantically run forward when they catch sight of you. The ceiling-hopping Jiangshi Assassins will drop down if you run under them. In both cases, use these behaviors to your advantage and force them to move – and become vulnerable to attacks – on your terms. It’s crucial for this stage.
- The crustacean warriors (Pangxie) can launch their big meaty claws extremely far. I’m talking go-go-gadget far. They’ll survive your first bombing, so bring two or avoid them.
- If you’ve reached Tide Pool from the camp shortcut and you’d like a shotgun to deal with upcoming threats, you can reliably kill Madame Tusk’s bodyguard by climbing to the top of the pole outside the shop, dropping a bomb to aggro the sunglasses-wearing menace, and waiting for him to climb up. When he does, drop on his head, climb back up to the top, and wait for the cycle to repeat until he bites it. Then you can use the gun against Tusk. That said, try not to let your shot ricochet off the energy wall.
- There’s a sword in the stone (Excalibur) at the bottom of one of the Tide Pool levels that you can pick up if you’re wearing the crown that Vlad protects in Volcana. It’s powerful! Note: you will have to pull the sword out like you’re picking up a weapon.
- You’ll also spot a lake with a Great Humphead. He’s not worth the trouble unless you have a shotgun and can blast him from a distance or enough time to whip. He’s super tanky. If you slay the fish, you’ll get a Hired Hand that can be instrumental in unlocking the Ice Caves shortcut.
Temple of Anubis
- To reach the Temple of Anubis, you’ll need to be in the lower right-hand side of Olmec’s Lair and bomb below the door to Tide Pool (the one with crabs outside). Let him do the dirty work. If you’re accessing Olmec’s Lair from the shortcut (and he’s gone), you’ll need four bombs to clear out the terrain – just enough to avoid taking fall damage.
- The returning Crush Traps (the moving blocks with eyes) are the main threat to watch out for, but don’t underestimate the Mummy Cat. You must jump on them, not whip. They’ll curse you and drop your health down to 1HP. Yes, even from the mid-twenties.
- The Sorceress freaked me out for a long time – she fires a laser that morphs into a random enemy – but if you’re confident and rush her, she isn’t so bad.
- If you’re being hounded by infinite red skeletons and don’t know what to do, there’s a Necromancer summoning them nearby, potentially just out of frame. They’re annoying!
The City of Gold
- It’s back! Kinda. The process for entering the City of Gold isn’t exactly the same.
- Before you leave the Dwelling stage, find and use a golden key in one of the first few levels (it’s randomized) to open a chest in a mini-cave to pick up the Udjat Eye.
- Once you kill (or skip) Quillback on 1-4, go to the bottom-left side of the level to enter the Jungle. In one of these nasty levels, your Udjat Eye will start chattering away to indicate that the Black Market entrance is near. The faster and more pronounced the noise, the closer you are. Once you’re confident, bomb away to unearth the door.
- Down here, you’ll be able to collect some treasure and hopefully be able to afford the Hedjet for 40,000 gold on the right-hand side. Be warned: the Ghost can and will chase you in the Black Market if you dilly-dally. You have a bit more time than normal.
- Continue until you reach Olmec. Let him clear out the first lair of ground, strategically fall on his head, and jump off, then run to the right. Either climb the ladder or throw your own rope in your preferred location and wait for Olmec to bomb the shit outta this stage. Below the Tide Pool entrance, there’s a room to the Temple of Anubis. Take it.
- It’s time to fight our old friend Anubis. He’ll fire slow-moving circular projectiles and give off a glowing “tell” before firing a (ground-ignoring) beam attack at your current location. If you don’t have a pair of sticky bombs or a gun to hurt him, try to get a rock and chuck it back and forth until he dies from a thousand cuts. Once he’s gone, he’ll drop the Scepter. Speaking of which, don’t kill him with those squishing moving blocks.
- Further in the Temple, you’ll see a golden door and, with the Hedjet and Scepter, you’ll be able to enter the City of Gold. I hope you brought bombs and rope to get around.
- I’ve been here several times and haven’t seen the Book of the Dead (assuming it exists in Spelunky 2). I did spot a conspicuous altar, though. Am I… supposed to sacrifice myself? [Update: I am. Shout-out to Reddit user TehWavey for the crazy next step.]
- To reach Duat, the hellish snake world from the trailer, you must sacrifice yourself on the altar in the City of Gold with the Hedjet and Ankh. You can drop down directly on the center of the Altar to take fall damage and you’ll be whisked away to Duat.
- Duat is tricky in that you can’t use your rope like normal and, at select spots, a giant floating snake (Apep) will barge across the screen back and forth. You need to take your time to survive. I nearly got trapped by a pool of lava but I found a way around.
- At the very top – if you make it to the very top – you’ll see two bosses: Osiris and Anubis II. I hope you have bombs so you can quickly clear them out.
- Osiris will float horizontally and smash his fists down. If you have any ropes left, you can toss them up at his head, they’ll do a bit of damage, and then they’ll bounce off, allowing you to pick them back up. With that in mind, try to clear out all the common creeps (like the freaky Ammit) below you before picking a fight.
- Did you get ’em? You should be the proud owner of the Tablet of Destiny.
- Abzu is an alternative to Duat that’s accessible via Tide Pool. It’s another way to access the true endgame and the super-secret final stages starting with the Sunken City.
- You can reach Abzu by getting the Udjat Eye in Dwelling, going to Volcana and using the giant drill to reach Vlad’s castle and steal the crown, fighting Olmec and having him drop into the lava to grab the Ankh, and pulling Excalibur from the stone in Tide Pool.
- Take Excalibur with you to Tide Pool 4-3 and look for a sub-level cave door. Once you find it, leave the sword there or in a safe spot. Inside the cave, you’ll see a tall tunnel, and at the bottom, a man will tell you the door is a one-way trip. (Again, do not bring Excalibur with you – it’s a painful mistake I’ve made once already.)
- In this next room, you’ll see a Golden Idol that you can steal to activate a lava trap that will kill you, but your Ankh will revive you. [Thanks for the tip, Squid.]
- You’ll be warped to the top of 4-3, and now you can go collect Excalibur and head down the level to find a new secret door just below the normal level exit. Head inside.
- Abzu looks like other Tide Pool levels except there’s a huge turtle boss named Kingu climbing around the background. To get on top, look for a cave entrance and head up – way up. At the top, you’ll pop back out and be able to jump on a platform connected to Kingu’s back. Using Excalibur, attack the middle of the shell (the weak point will flash as you hit it) and watch out for randomly-spawning enemies. With a bunch of hits, Kingu will die and you’ll get the Tablet of Destiny.
- With the Tablet of Destiny, you’ll see a clue in your journal describing a certain (randomized) color and style of figurine – this information is used in the Ushabti room in Neo Babylon.
- The Ice Caves are one long level that’s split down the middle with a Yeti Cave that you can skip if you have a jetpack, cape, climbing gloves, or other means of dropping down.
- If you’re bold, you can attack a UFO near the Yeti Cave door and let the escaped alien slowly parachute down. If you’re lucky, you can leap, bounce on the just-off-screen alien, and land without killing yourself. Every Spelunky guide needs one stupid strat. Otherwise, if you see an alien in a cool mech suit, jump on its head and hover down.
- It’s actually worth doing the Yeti Cave. Pick up one of the scattered Landmines and bring it into the cave with you. Bide your time, and drop it from a ledge in such a way that the Yeti Queen will walk over it and go bye-bye. You’ll get Spike Shoes from her. On the next floor down, there’s a howling Yeti King who can cause icicles to plummet and also freeze you solid. Either kill him with a well-aimed bomb or jump on his head with the shoes. He’ll drop a compass, which you’ll desperately need for the next stage.
- There’s a hidden alien sub-level accessible from the Ice Caves but it’s a total pain to get into. Below the Yeti Cave exit, you’ll see a hole in the wall somewhere that’s one tile off the ground and can’t be entered unless you have something to stand on. You’re seemingly meant to get a stone block into this position using, in large part, blind luck.
- A backdoor entrance to the alien domain was discovered by streamer HectiqueX, who demonstrates the process in this clip. It’s hard to reproduce, but I’ve done it. (I wouldn’t risk this galaxy-brain method unless you have the Ice Caves shortcut from camp.)
- With luck, at the bottom-most terrain or platform you can find in the Ice Caves, you’ll want to fall into the bottomless pit on the right- or left-hand side of the screen. (I’m not sure how to predict which it will be). In either case, you’re aiming to drop six tiles away from the wall – the screenshot above shows my successful attempt.
- If you do it right, you won’t die. You’ll take two fall damage and see a prompt to enter an invisible door. Heading inside will bring you to the bottom of the alien sub-level. Inside, you’ll find a Plasma Cannon, the Pilot unlockable character, freaky Proto Shopkeepers with lore that’ll keep you up at night, and the Alien Queen.
- You’re in the home stretch. This is the final set of levels before the main boss.
- With one exception, most of the traps are fairly easy to account for and avoid. Some will cause swirling sparks to float around the stage, and others have pattern-based electricity. The devious one, a Laser Trap that looks like a block with a circle and three dots, is like a high-tech Arrow Trap. It’s motion-activated and it’s so easy to overlook.
- If you see a hoofed Lamassu, probably just steer clear – they have range.
- I haven’t been able to survive this private room with Madame Tusk’s bodyguards. I’m not sure how to gain their acceptance, and as soon as I enter, they instantly gun me down. This room will appear if you see a message about “sounds of revelry.”
- What’s up with this room full of Ushabti? If you check your journal entry for the Tablet of Destiny, you’ll know which figurine to steal and bring with you to the next Neo Babylon level. If you picked the right one, a new flying mount (Qilin) will break free.
- If you can somehow manage to beat Tiamat and ride Qilin to the top of her level while surviving a gauntlet of timing-based traps, you’ll be able to access the Sunken City. Then things get weird. [Credit to streamer HectiqueX for figuring out this last step.]
- I won’t pretend to know her secrets or claim that she’s the real final boss, but if you can manage to beat Tiamat, you’ll see the end credits. Again, I’ve only done this once.
- The main advice I can give is to bring a weapon and plenty of ropes. Tiamat is kind of like King Yama from Spelunky in that she’s a giant stationary figure – but don’t underestimate her.
- She will continuously fire off slow projectiles that morph into random enemies, and there are two floating stone pillars – one on either side of her – shielding her from far-off attacks. You’ll need to ride bubbles up to get close enough to strike her face.
- The time I won, I set up multiple ropes on either side of both pillars so that I had something to chill on and room to work with. I used a supercharged shotgun with the red powerpack accessory to dish out quick damage. I’d climb up, take my shots when the coast was (relatively) clear, and slip out before she yelled or hit me with a projectile.
- Ana is the star, but you can play as her dad, Guy Spelunky, after beating the game.
For now, incomplete as it is, and as much as updates have changed certain things, I hope this guide helps! I’m excited to reach the Sunken City, the Cosmic Ocean, and other hush-hush locations.