Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a fantastic open-world experience that tells the story of Peter Parker, Miles Morales, and Mary-Jane Watson in their combined triumph over the insatiable Kraven the Hunter and a potentially catastrophic symbiote invasion. However, this PS5 exclusive isn’t quite about all that – at least, not at its core. In a hostless interview with Remedy Entertainment’s Sam Lake, Insomniac Games’ senior narrative director Jon Paquette reveals that Spider-Man 2 was always really a game about Venom – or, rather Venom’s story – not necessarily the two Spider-Men you spend most of your time playing as.
When you stop and take a look at all the fantastic new PS5 games (and, of course, all the PS5 exclusives) available at the moment, Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man 2 really is one of the best – if not the best. It’s easily among the best open world games out there right now and you could make a very strong argument that it’s one of the best games on this generation of consoles period. One major reason why this game has proven such a hit with the players, of which this recent report on Spider-Man 2 sales is proof, is the story being told and the hotly anticipated debut of Venom in Insomniac Games’ Spider-verse.
Speaking with the aforementioned Alan Wake 2 co-director Sam Lake in a refreshing one-on-one interview hosted by IGN, Paquette shares that Insomniac Games was acutely aware of how much the fans wanted to see more of Venom, but also reveals that Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man 2 was always a Venom story at its core – right from the first round of pitches.
“We knew that one of the big questions for us was going to be ‘who is Venom?’ and there was a lot of fans online [speculating]… We were aware that this was going to be a narrative that people wanted to talk about”, Paquette begins (at around the 03:40 mark in the video below). However, Paquette “said from the beginning that this was going to be a Venom story” (at around the 43:45 mark in the same video) and thus the symbiote would be the main ‘mover’ in the game – threading between the separate narratives being told and tying them all together.
Adding to this, Paquette explains that his “head was exploding” at first when trying to navigate a narrative where Venom was “the main thing”, but not one of the game’s dual protagonists. In an effort to solve the issues this raised, Paquette praises the work of the narrative team around him and the time they spent ensuring the narrative arcs of characters like Miles Morales – who could quite easily fall by the wayside in a story about Peter Parker, Harry Osborn, and (as we’ve established) importantly Venom – were sound and compelling in their own right.
So, while Paquette doesn’t quite go into the specifics of how each narrative was worked out, it’s clear that Insomniac Games’ focus on ensuring all the side stories being told in Spider-Man 2 work independently alongside the main Venom-focused story (before intertwining all of those narrative threads) was key to ensuring Venom stayed central – but not to the point where he would overshadow the other characters. When you think about the type of character Venom actually is (an outgoing, indulgent, malicious, and deeply troubled individual), that’s really no easy feat. Venom enjoys being the center of attention and getting what he wants; characters like that really do demand a lot of attention in the stories where they are present.
However, despite being a focal point in the final stages of Spider-Man 2, Venom never quite feels like the main character – even though his influence on the narrative is felt throughout, be that while bonded to Harry Osborn or bonded to Peter Parker. This, though, is what makes Venom easily the most compelling of the Spider-Man 2 villains and perhaps the most interesting character in Insomniac Games’ Spider-verse so far. This isn’t just a story about Venom, but it’s a Venom story; the symbiote itself is pulling the strings, unravelling these tight-knit relationships, and (both directly and indirectly) generating a lot of the tension and drama.
If you’re a big fan of Venom (and we’re not talking about 19 inches of anything here), you’ll be interested to learn that Spider-Man 2’s Tony Todd claims only 10% of his Venom lines were actually used in Insomniac Games’ latest release. When you think about what the Spider-Man 2 post credits scene teases and how many people are now crying out for a Venom game – where he is the main playable character – we could see quite a bit more of the symbiote in the future. It might look like some Spider-Man 2 DLC involving Hells Kitchen’s Daredevil is on the way, but more content establishing Venom as an independent entity from the wider symbiote is also something we could see Insomniac Games exploring. We still don’t know a lot about Eddie Brock in Insomniac Games’ Spider-verse, after all, and he’s one of the Venom’s primary hosts in Marvel Comics’ main universe.