Why I love Spelunky 2's adorable and evolving cavemen

(Image credit: Mossmouth)

I'm not doing so well in Spelunky 2. My stats page shows nothing impressive besides a huge death tally. I've barely made it even once through the second world. And the most lethal area for me has been world 1-1. That's the very first area, and I'm routinely getting my ass kicked there. At least I'm not the only one.

1-1 is stuffed with cave moles, which I hate, horned lizards, which I hate, and oodles of arrow traps. Which I hate.

But there's one enemy I don't hate. In fact, I absolutely love Spelunky 2's adorable, fascinating, evolving cavemen. Here's a few reasons why.

They talk to each other

They're primitive, yes. They haven't gotten around to inventing shirts yet. But they are working on spoken language. You can kind of hear the grunts when you see two cavemen talking in Spelunky 2, though it's hard to tell if they're actually communicating important information or just grunting enthusiastically. 

They talk over each other and there's a heck of a lot of spitting, too, but give them another 10,000 years and maybe they'll invent manners.

They carry stuff around

If a caveman finds something—a key, a rock, clay pot, a jewel—they'll pick it up and carry it around. They'll even pick up your pet dog if it's stunned when they come across it. I love it.

This can occasionally become a problem, though. I was watching someone stream Spelunky 2, and the caveman picked up the cursed ghost pot. You know, the fragile jar that contains a valuable diamond but summons the unkillable ghost if it's shattered? Needless to say, the caveman was hit by an arrow trap and dropped the pot, which broke. The ghost arrived to chase the player out of the level far earlier than it would have.

Why do cavemen pick stuff up? It's not just for show. In an alarming development, the cavemen have discovered capitalism:

They have shops. Shops! It's so cute.

Perhaps the cavemen have learned a thing or two from Spelunky's ultra-violent shopkeepers. While exploring you'll occasionally find a caveman shop! 

They don't sell the best merchandise, but dang it, they're trying. Items for sale may include a rock—a rock, that's so damn adorable—a clay pot, a cooked turkey, and sometimes your pet, which they presumably found, picked up, and carried away. Steal something or attack them and they'll become violent, but at least they haven't invented shotguns yet.

They trip over shit

Cavemen get very excited when they see you, and run over to bash you. (Or, maybe it's just an overenthusiastic hug they're looking for, which I prefer to imagine.) But when running at top speed they're not all that observant, and will trip over anything in their way, including rocks, arrows, and even gold bars.

I can't really laugh at their clumsiness. I spend a great deal of Spelunky 2 face-down and stunned because I didn't look where I was going, either.

They tame and ride mounts

You'll find cavemen riding on turkeys and other Spelunky 2 mounts. See, they're just like us! Just be careful hopping off your mount near a caveman, or they'll hop right on and ride away.

You can use their campfires to cook

Sometimes you'll come across a little caveman dwelling. There aren't always cavemen inside it, but there's a crackling campfire, and it's quite useful. Whip it and it'll give you a lit torch, something usually only seen on dark levels.

You can use the torch to cook turkeys for extra health, without having to rely on using your precious supply of bombs to cook them. Thanks, cavemen! (Also, apologies to that particular caveman.)

They take naps

Everyone loves a nice nap. Cavemen aren't the only ones in Spelunky 2 who take fall asleep: the hired hands sometimes do, and so does the [REDACTED], but you'll often see cavemen taking a siesta and hear their little whistling snores. Plus, when they wake up, their blinking eyes make a little noise, which lets you know they're gonna start running at you.

Even in death, they're still smiling

In these troubling times, it's nice to see some relentless positivity, even from a dead caveman on the moon. It's a good reminder to keep your chin up.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.