When I first heard about Kali, Spelunky’s resident goddess who loves human sacrifices, I wasn’t sure what to think. It was recommended to me that, after rescuing a damsel, I make sure to bring her to an altar to sacrifice immediately. “Why would I do that when I could get some extra health from rescuing her?” I asked foolishly, ignorant of Kali’s amazing power. I learned my lesson quickly.
Kali rewards you with an item based on what (or rather, who) you sacrifice. Damsels are worth the most, so I make a point to sacrifice them as soon as possible now. Since I use all three damsel types, including an adorable, somewhat-dumbfounded pug, the sacrifice does bring a tear to my eye. Until I get an amazing item, like the always-useful compass, that is. Then I move on with my life and hope I can survive until the next altar shows up. Sorry, doggies.
If you sacrifice two adorable pugs, Kali rewards you with the kapala, or, you know, a cup of blood made out of a human skull. This proves you are loyal to Kali and her bloodthirsty ways, turning you into a bit of a leech. With this handy tool, you can collect the blood of your enemies to fill the cup and gain health. That sounds almost demonic, sure, but it’s one of the best items in the game and can quickly take you from low health to “why do I need this much health?”
The kapala is also a big weakness of mine. When I get it, I go out of my way to make sure I kill as many enemies as possible, which tends to get me in trouble. Sometimes I can run through a level and pick off enemies no problem, gaining some health in the process, but other times I do riskier things than I would otherwise avoid. I can go toward the exit, but there are a bunch of enemies near that tiki trap that can get me some extra health. “It’ll be fine!,” I tell myself a few seconds before my not-so-unexpected demise. At least I died knowing I have the respect of the great Kali.
Becoming a servant of Kali is about more than just sacrificing helpless damsels, of course. You need to respect her property too. Sometimes a stray bomb or even a giant rolling bolder you just happen to trigger can destroy Kali’s altar, putting her in a bad mood and also summoning a hoard of spiders. With a few additional sacrifices you can calm her down, but one more wrong move and you’re stuck with a ball and chain around your ankle for the rest of that run. As you might be able to guess, I learned this the hard way. (To be fair, if you were an all-powerful deity who demanded human sacrifice, you would probably react similarly.)
Silliness aside, I often find getting the kapala is well worth the trouble despite my reckless nature after I get it. Some of my best runs happened after I was able to gain health through means other than rescuing a damsel, even if it meant taking a few risks in order to make that happen. The game doesn’t always cooperate to make sure sacrificing the damsels is the best use of your time, but when is Spelunky ever accommodating? Sometimes you just need to work with a bloodthirsty goddess to make sure things go your way.