It was 3am and Hucks the cellar spider was finally surrounded by, instead of carrying, her wee hatchlings. Clarice, her slightly dim neighbour, was resting after another hour spent fruitlessly stumbling around after an even dafter flying thingy that would eventually blunder right into her face.
Playing Webbed seemed inevitable for someone who watches her ceiling spiders when she can't sleep or finish an article. But within about a minute of playing, it became clear that it's the kind of game that will bring joy to almost anyone. Webbed is immediately brilliant.
I instantly fell for its introduction, as I rapidly learned to make my wee jumping spider (the only spider that even unfans might admit can be cute) dance, jump, and then swing around like I've wanted in a game since spiderman 2, then create little webby bridges I could connect in endless combinations, then effortlessly climb up and along. How in the world did it take until 2021 for this to happen? And then a bird attacked. And then the prompt popped up for the last skill it gives your spider.
At 3am in a shared house I cackled, in a way some of the best comedies ever made haven't made me do. I can't remember the last time a game had me go from 0 to "this is wonderful" so fast. Perhaps I could complain that it's not a simmy game about building effective webs and luring in food, but about bouncing around and gathering insect allies to fight the evil bird that spidnapped your boyfriend. But alas, I have a soul, and so I've delighted in solving physics puzzles to help the ants build a mech, hitching a ride on a friendly bee, and stumbling across a secret level that I'm straining not to spoil for you, it's such daft fun.
Your webs make musical sounds as you patter along them, varying in tone according to length. You can catch flies by lassoing them (which fans of the bolas spider will know isn't as outlandish as it sounds) and eating them whole with a big chomping sound. Tiny spiderlings you rescue will cling to your back, and when a friendly moth arrived to offer help, I experimentally pressed the 'dance' button. It did a little waggle. Everything does a little waggle dance back at you. It serves no purpose at all, so of course you'll do it constantly.
Webbed gets a tiny bit fiddly in the more puzzle, mechanical underground sections, as you pull things about and construct scaffolds to help fix the ants' machines. I got a bit tired of them and headed for the skies instead, where I was free to hurl myself around, and finally put the "how does a spider design a web" page I read in Bugs magazine when I was like 9 to use.
But it's a forgiving game. You're instantly restored to life with an audible pop when you swing into spikes. When you need to collect 20 pollen things there are several more than that, so you don't have to tediously go back through an area that you gleefully flung yourself across. Webbed knows you're here for the joy of splopping little webs about, doing clever tricks, and swinging through the sky, not for chasing perfection. It wants you to have a good time, and it damn well provides it.