If you’ve ever wanted to perform an exorcism while armed to the teeth with shotguns, assault rifles and land mines then you are in for a treat. ‘Extreme Exorcism’ is a mad cap, action, arcade game which is available now on PC, XBox One & Playstation 4 (reviewed). It’s a game that involves storming an old building, either on a solo mission or with a group of friends, and clearing the rooms of all the ghosts within. The plot is as simple as they come, but this is a game designed for action rather than story.
‘Extreme Exorcism’ presents itself as a 2D platform game, however unlike most modern platform games there is no scrolling. The game consists of several, short, fast paced rounds, in static arenas which are littered with weapons (both melee and projectile). Think ‘Bubble Bobble’ meets ‘Duck Game’. Your character can hold multiple weapons at any one time, which are all used simultaneously with a single button push. This keeps everything moving quickly as you do not need to select particular weapons.
Jumping around a single screen killing hordes of ghosts may sound straight forward enough, however this game does include an interesting twist which may influence your strategy when playing. Every ghost you see on the screen is a carbon copy of yourself from a previous round. Every detail from the point of which you entered the stage, the path you take, the weapons you pick up, the places where you attack, the bullets fire, are all recorded for the next ghost that enters the battle. As you advance into later rounds you’ll have more clones of yourself on the screen to deal with.
In order to calm the arena down you’ll need to use an exorcism power up which will remove ghost clones from the battle permanently. Using this power will create a temporary force field around you. Any ghosts that come into contact with it will be banished from the present and all future rounds, allowing you some breathing space.
There are multiple ways to play ‘Extreme Exorcism’. There is an ‘Arcade’ mode where you need to score a certain number of points in each arena in order to unlock the next one (this can be played in single player or up to four player local co-op). ‘Challenge’ mode in which you compete in a wide range of single player matches with a variety of stipulations. Finally, there is an extremely customizable ‘Death Match’ mode (for two to four players).
The arcade mode takes around three to four hours to complete. You begin this mode with a short tutorial outside the ghost riddled building and your journey gets progressively more frantic from then on. As you score points more weapons and pickups will unlock, and the later stages include new environmental elements such as spikes, springs and ice. Should you make it to the end, you’ll be treated to a rather unique boss battle with a demon that can spawn ghosts and use your own skills / abilities against you.
The challenge mode features various tiers of difficulty. As such you have to complete the easier challenges in order to advance to the harder ones. This is the only mode I have yet to finish however, as of the last time I checked the trophy statistics, no one else seems to have beaten this mode yet either.
The death match mode is what really makes this game stand out. The concept is simple enough. Two to four players enter an arena, grab weapons and attempt to score kills over each other. Every time you win a round, a ghost will be added to the arena that the other players will have to deal with. Think of it as a mini game of ‘Super Smash Brothers’ with single hit kills.
Death match mode is lots fun on the standard settings, however you can customise several options which can create an incredibly intense match. You can scrap double jumps in favour of triple or quadruple jumps. If carrying three weapons at once wasn’t overkill enough then why not increase the limit to eight? Why not reduce the gravity or increase the game’s speed? You can even enable ghosts that you’ve spawned to be able to hurt you, turning them into a handicap instead of an advantage.
The controls are very simple, as are the menus and interfaces as a whole. Since all of the weapons you collect are assigned to one button, you only need to use a total of two face buttons including ‘jump’. The game does offer a small options menu to control things like the audio, but there are no button rebinding options. Since the controls are very basic I doubt most people will need them.
The game is presented in an unusual aspect ratio which results in two short black bars on either side of the TV screen. I’m not sure what the ratio is but it certainly isn’t 16:9. I’m guessing this may have started life as a windowed PC game. Regardless of this, the graphics, use of colour and overall presentation is great.
The various arenas all have coordinated colour schemes and the pixel art is really well animated. Nothing appears to stay still in this game. If you take a look at the backgrounds you’ll always notice lights flickering, door knobs rattling, furniture shaking. The stages always seem to buzz with a life of their own. It helps to add to the haunted atmosphere and ensures that the screen never looks static or dull.
The sound was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I liked the jazzy menu themes, however I wasn’t too keen on the sound effects. In the arcade mode there’s a crown item which made a dreadful noise whenever it dropped on the floor. It sounded as if my speakers were broken or my Playstation was playing up. It wasn’t a very loud noise but it was certainly ear grating. It didn’t sound like something metallic hitting a floor at all. Another strange occurrence was that the music that plays at the end of a stage seems to be a lot louder than the stage music. This inconsistency in volume also got a bit annoying.
I actually have very little to criticise this game about, however I will mention that while I was playing in single player I was able to work out strategies which exploited the ghost’s movement system. As a result I began playing the game more methodically and was able to advance through several rounds in little to no danger. Such strategies are effective but completely kill the pace of the game. By introducing brief time limits in the early stages or making the first few rounds more dangerous, it would have been harder for me to organise my movement and abuse future ghosts for easy kills. Since playing the game in multiplayer is far less predictable, this seems to be an issue that’s exclusive to the single player modes.
Another small nitpick is that there is a short interlude of several seconds between rounds. This may not sound like a lot, however the rounds themselves can also be extremely short depending on the situation and how good you are. There were times when these brief interludes were lasting longer than the rounds themselves. Given that this game is fast and snappy, it would have been better if respawns were instant between rounds. It would have helped with the overall pace of the gameplay.
In addition to the multiple game play modes, this game also includes a nice selection of achievements which should keep you busy long after you’ve beaten the arcade mode. This coupled with the huge extent of death match options should help keep this game fresh for a good length of time.
From looking at the PSN feedback data, it seems that Extreme Exorcism has gone relatively unnoticed so far, which is a shame as this is a wicked little party game. It doesn’t do anything particularly exceptional and the mechanics are rather basic, but after half an hour of brawling with friends in death match mode I can certainly see a place for it in my games library. It currently retails at £9.99 which I think is a fair price for what it is, however if you’re skeptical I would defiantly recommend grabbing it in a sale. If you’re planning on having some friends over for a games night any time soon then I think Extreme Exorcism is worth giving a try.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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