If you are one of the many people who enjoyed Towerfall Ascension, you are gonna have a similarly fun experience with Extreme Exorcism. This is a retro-styled 8-bit 2D platformer that can be played in multiplayer, with up to 4 people; the multiplayer can be co-operative or competitive, through the story mode or local multiplayer respectively.
I say story, but this isn’t a game that takes you through cutscenes to get to the action. Upon switching on Extreme Exorcism, you can go straight into the action, which is based in arenas. These arenas have you battling ghostly enemies, but there is a twist to them – the ghosts copy your movements. This can be both a help and a hindrance – sure, you can plan their movements, but it is very easy to get switched back on. Luckily, you have another game mechanic to help you out.
Weapons spawn all over the stages in specific spots, but what weapon you get varies. This almost doesn’t matter, though, as your weaponry stacks up. Yes, your baseball bat doesn’t have to be dropped to pick up a machine gun – you can swing and shoot all at once. It gets more exciting than this, though, as weapons range from swords to Kung-Fu moves to spells. There is just enough variety to keep it fresh, even if it would have been nice to see the game play a bit more – the spells and other more original weapons start to do that, and I found I just wanted a little bit more. Finding good combinations really helps you progress through the game, as it does get tough quickly.
The main game, Arcade mode, is set at a haunted mansion, which is split into different areas of levels to play. As you progress through the house, arenas change and get harder and harder. It quickly becomes a challenge to get enough points to progress, but it didn’t get overly frustrating; I always knew I could do better and didn’t hesitate to jump back in. After a few areas of the same routine (getting enough points to progress, finishing the area, starting again) it does get a tad stale, however. It feels like it is in need of something to break it up. Some more boss-like fights at certain points could do that, and would be a good way to break up the rhythm of the game.
This doesn’t mean there is nothing to do apart from the Arcade mode. The customisable death match mode lets you play around, but of more interest to me personally was the challenge mode. This is where the developers clearly got to change up how the game is played, and it can be a welcome break from the routine of the story mode. The rule changes, be they using certain weapons, avoiding hits and so on, get really, well, challenging, and extend the life of the game well. This mode is single-player only; it is nice to see substantial experiences for both solo players and groups as well.
My experience of this gamer was focused on solo play, but I had a really good time. These retro, arena-based games (I mentioned Towerfall Ascension previously) seem to be popping up more and more, so you need something to set you apart, and the path-copying-enemies and weapon-stacking do that for Extreme Exorcism. One other thing that makes this game stand out is the visual – and audio – style it has. The combination of 8-bit visuals, similarly retro-style music and the horror vibe give it a really distinct voice. Golden Ruby Games have done well at giving the game visual variety within that, too. Areas range from grim and subdued to fire-filled and intense. Also, the arenas themselves keep you on your toes. Some are simple, with your expected standard platforms; some have moving and connecting parts, leading to dead ends and other problems for the player to figure out.
Extreme Exorcism is fast-paced and action-packed, with a superb style and some clever game mechanics. It would have been great to see the game mix up the arcade mode and weapons a bit more, but this is still a really solid platformer – and there is a good amount here in both single-player and multiplayer. For £9.99 (or even less if you downloaded the E3 Nindies@Home demo!), Extreme Exorcism is another addition to the Wii U eShop’s already substantial amount of fun indie titles.