Like Peter Parker and Mary Jane, Sony's upcoming PS4 exclusive Spider-Man and developer Insomniac Games just make sense together. Given Spidey's cool but naive nature and Insomniac's penchant for delivering on worlds that shine with imagination, the two fit this lighthearted, playful mold that so many comic book characters and games lack by design. This down-to-earth, human quality is exactly what made audiences fall in love with each respectively, as they may find a part of themselves in a boy with spider powers and a Lombax with a robot backpack.
It comes with no surprise, then, that when Sony approached Insomniac about developing a Marvel game, the studio chose to go with Spidey. CEO Ted Price told Kotaku's Jason Schreier this recently during the publication's Splitscreen podcast, stating that while the company was given free range in deciding which Marvel property to develop a game for, it thought it best to go with the web-slinger. It goes to show that it's not just me preaching out of excitement for the game – Insomniac itself knew Spider-Man was right up its alley.
Taking a look back at the studio's library of games, it frankly must have been a no-brainer. Spyro the Dragon on the original PlayStation introduced audiences to colorful, vibrant worlds that provided a relatively moderate amount of freedom for games at the time. It also gave players the chance to glide through the air as the titular purple dragon, something that PS4 users will undoubtedly experience when swinging through Manhattan later this year.
During the PlayStation 2 era, Insomniac decided to add a layer of complexity to its worlds and characters in its next franchise, Ratchet and Clank. That lighthearted spirit found in Spyro was still there, sure, but this series grew up a bit from the studio's past. Putting aside the hilarious names attached to each game like Going Commando, Up Your Arsenal, Size Matters, Quest for Booty, and Full Frontal Assault, Ratchet and Clank's relationship was illustrated in such a way that one didn't immediately trust the other right away. In fact, the two disliked each other for a good part of the original game. It went to show that Insomniac knew how to create compelling characters that audiences could sympathize and grow with, just like in movies, TV shows, and comic books. Despite all the imagination, there was still a lot there based on reality.
Moving on to the PlayStation 3 era and the Resistance franchise, Insomniac proved itself very capable of introducing to players an interesting narrative set within a novel time in world history, one that, of course, never really happened. An alien invasion taking place in the 1950's after World War II made for a premise that was compelling right out of the gate, if only because it enticed players to find out for themselves whether or not a more primitive human race would survive. Though Spider-Man's foundations in New York City and his ties with allies and villains in the comics are already established, it'd be interesting to see if and how the studio will shake things up like they did with Resistance. Seeing as how Miles Morales is involved in some way, audiences shouldn't necessarily expect Peter Parker and Mary Jane to get their happily ever after.
The company hasn't done as much for the modern console generation as they have in the past outside of another Ratchet and Clank game (this time a remake of the original), though Sunset Overdrive on the Xbox One does give eager Spider-Man players clues as to how the web head will move, control, and interact with his environment, especially with the former game's creative director, Bryan Intihar, at the helm of Spidey. Running on walls, speeding down rails, and upper-cutting enemies in mid-air all translates well to a game with a human spider, if you ask me. There's also Overdrive's fun world to consider, one that actively encourages players to hop, grind, and shoot away in, complete with tall rooftops, tons of trees, and lots of tracks to ride on. It helps that buildings are destructible, too, which is hopefully something players will get to try out in a virtual version of Manhattan.
When it comes down to it, though, we'll just have to wait and see whether or not Insomniac uses both what it's learned from its expansive library of games and the full range of the Spider-Man universe to deliver on this exclusive's promise. From what we've seen so far, the believable characters, open worlds, interesting narrative, and fun gameplay elements from Spyro, Ratchet, Resistance, and Overdrive all seem to be present in Spider-Man, at least as just brief glimpses for now. Though a lot of other developers may have the potential to mess things up going forward, Insomniac has consistently delivered on critically acclaimed games since its debut in the 90's. In essence, this means that fans don't really have a lot to worry about.