Fans of old school local multiplayer have an indie title to look forward to in Extreme Exorcism, which is a retro pixel art title from Golden Ruby Games for the PC. While at PAX Prime I got to hang out with the developers and played a feverish match of Extreme Exorcism, which is an arena-style platformer that forces you to have fast-twitch skills on the controller, as well as the ability to keep calm during the game’s frenetic action, which there is plenty of thanks to its core gameplay mechanic of using player clones as enemies.
Basically, when you die your previous gameplay actions, be it jumping, shooting, or picking up weapons, are mimicked by a ghost-clone to a “T”, so you have to contend with a previous version of yourself while trying to snuff out the leader ghost for points. The leader ghost sports a jewel-filled crown, and he is the ghost that nets you massive amounts of points towards the leaderboard for killing him and advances you to the next level of the same map, so all of your previous clones are just obstacles to avoid en route to snuffing out the top dog. The cloned ghosts can’t kill you by contact, but they can hit you with whichever weapon you had equipped before you died, so every action you take in the present can come back and bite you in the ass in the very near future. The king ghost also fires weapons that can take down your life meter, but he isn’t entirely mimicking any of your previous actions. Speaking of weapons, they range from projectile based guns to melee style weapons like a sword or bat.
Due to the confined spaces of the Indie Mini-booth I wasn’t able to play with three other players, but I still had a blast trying to rack up a high score playing solo. The first thing that sticks out about Extreme Exorcism is its old school charm and visuals. There’s no doubt that retro pixel art is making a resurgence in video game design, and Extreme Exorcism is another example of why this movement is taking place. Your sprite and the myriad of weapons he can use to take out his dead clones are each detailed block by block and full of colors to flesh out their appearances. The level design also reflects the game’s 8-bit visual style with pixelated platforms and pick-up boxes scattered throughout each map.
Each match plays out on a relatively small map that remind me of how the maps look in a Super Smash Bros. title. The map I played on had four platforms scattered throughout to give me something to jump on while avoiding the ghost clones, and it also featured a few low hanging platforms to make the challenge a bit harder by forcing me to jump over them and enemies if I landed on the level’s floor.
When the game first begins it appears to be a simple challenge, but that all changes the moment you die. Upon death you will instantly respawn and can continue your quest for a high score, but at the same time a clone of your previous life also spawns and begins to mimic exactly what you did during your last life. If you just jumped around like a mad man the clone will exhibit the same behavior, but if you used your gun like John Rambo it too will litter the screen with projectiles for you to avoid. The more times you die the more clones you have to contend with, so there is great motivation to stay alive, which adds to the anxiety that Extreme Exorcism can cause while nimbly trying to avoid death.
While you continue to avoid your clones you must also focus on finding the king clone to kill him, which will net you points and another opportunity in the level to rack up a high score while trying to kill the king again. Essentially, every time you kill the king the level refreshes and all your clones come back to keep the challenge going. If you get hit three times before killing the king clone you die and the game is over, so after a few levels and many deaths you’ll find yourself jumping through a sea of clones while trying to take out the lead dog.
Extreme Exorcism is a very fun to play arcade title that will surely make for some insane gameplay experiences with friends. Even playing alone is fun thanks to the allure of racking up the highest score for bragging rights over the community. Its retro charm oozes through the fantastic pixelated graphics and the simple controls that feel very similar to the good old days of using two button controllers with cords on a couch with some buddies. There isn’t an official release date, but the Golden Ruby Games team stated that the title will be for PC, and it won’t cost much more than $10. Stay tuned for more Extreme Exorcism details as they became available.
You can see Extreme Exorcism in action by checking out some gameplay in the video below.
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