The public parts of my notebook.
I’ve been playing this on the PS4 for a week or so. I’m starting to see the shape of the game. You go into the castle. You go from room to room and use a mixture of timing and agility and lore to kill baddies. You die. You find treasure and spend it on either new abilities or new gear. Your heir inherits your abilities and gear. They also have some random characteristics: maybe they are tall, or strong, or fast, or sickly.
As you hone your motor skills, and as you improve the attributes of your lineage, you get better at surviving and gathering treasure. Thus, you can improve your skills and lineage further. All this is heading towards some goals that I haven’t glimpsed, yet: defeating bosses, areas, the castle.
It is fun, for sure. But there is a problem.
You input time and you improve your ability: better motor skills, a better understanding of how the objects in the world work. This is satisfying because you are learning. But, the increase in avatar skill is much greater: more hit points, more spells, a sharper sword. This is unsatisfying because you are not learning.
In contrast, the ratio in Spelunky is the other way around. Though some small avatar improvements persist, the great weight of improvement occurs in the player’s ability to predict what will happen when they do something.