These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2017 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2017, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.

Well, it finally happened. Our rule about considering any game irrespective of release year finally bagged us a relatively older game.

1001 Spikes, originally released in 2014, is a deceptively difficult game about venturing through a temple to plunder it for gold, jewels, and treasured idols. You play as adventurer Aban, braving the hidden temple’s many perilous traps. At the outset, you’re given 1001 lives, which act as your life pool for the entire game. Once you’ve spent your allotment, that’s it, the game is done.

The game is a practice in patience. Where a platformer like Super Meat Boy is a dead-eyed sprint, 1001 Spikes is a marathon. Upon each loss, you’re improving your strategic mind, learning about how the game operates and what its next move is going to be. Each death is an opportunity to learn. Spike and dart trap timings are taught through repetition, since every level in the game is handmade.

Where a game like Spelunky is built upon procedurally generated levels, each level in 1001 Spikes drips with authorial intent. With each trap, gap, and jump, you can feel the hand of semi-mysterious development studio 8bits Fanatics at work. Every time you attempt a level, you’re taking one step forward at understanding 1001 Spikes and its creators.

1001 Spikes is the kind of game where simply finishing a level fills you with a giant sense of achievement, as long as you don’t put it down in frustration before then. This game isn’t for the faint of heart; it’s for true adventurers willing to brave the pitfalls of the temple to uncover its secrets.