GDC 2015: Extreme Exorcism Hands-On Preview – Spinning Heads Allowed

March 10, 2015 Written by Louis Edwards

The organizers of GDC 2015 did a great job this year of highlighting indie developers and letting them show off their wares to the world in a couple of places. Whether it was at GDC Play or at the Indie MegaBooth, indie devs were a plenty and their games were pretty darn good. We got a sneak peak and hands-on with indie developer Golden Ruby Games’ Extreme Exorcism and it continued the awesome indie trend.

Extreme Exorcism is a 2D paranormal platformer with a 16-bit presentation where all actions can come back to haunt players. In Extreme Exorcism, gamers take on the role of exorcist Mae Barrons (or one of her three assistants), whose unconventional supernatural skills are called upon when everything and everyone else has failed to rid a haunted house of its ghostly presence.

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 The game consists of you selecting a character, entering the level and locating a weapon, and then using said weapon to take out a ghost. Sounds simple enough, and it is at first. But after taking out one ghost, two more are unleashed upon you with one of them mimicking your actions of taking out the previous ghost. The shadow ghosts aren’t your target, and each round ends when you take out the newest ghost (signified with a crown upon its head), but those shadow ghosts continue to show up at the beginning of each round. The number of shadow ghosts goes up by one each round, so if you can make it to, let’s say round 10, you’ll have one crowned ghost and nine shadow ghosts, all wanting nothing else but to take you out.

This is a cool concept that takes a simple game mechanic of hunting a ghost, and makes it grow harder and harder each round, with ghosts that use your previous actions as their guide. If that doesn’t get into your head, the ghosts sure will. We all have our own tendencies and patterns that we fall into, whether we notice them or not, but you can be guaranteed that these shadow ghosts will not only remember your every move, but perform them exactly as you did. This just might make you rethink your actions and might even make you a better gamer in the long run.

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Exorcists are known for their typical exorcism tools such as a cross, a Bible, maybe some prayer beads and ancient incantations but these guys are different. These guys have in their arsenal weapons like swords, guns, grenades, mines, rocket launchers, razor-sharp boomerangs, lightning spells, and even some Kung-Fu moves, to name just a few. Definitely not the weapons of choice for people like Father Merrin (if you don’t know who he is, look him up), but apparently, these weapons are very effective against these ghosts as I was able to blast ’em with no problems.

Most games are more fun when playing with friends and Extreme Exorcism is no different. While there’s no online co-op, there is up to four-player couch co-op, you’ll just need some extra controllers to be able to have up to three friends join in the fun. Just remember that with more people playing, there will be more ghosts to take out, so strength in numbers might not be true.

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For those that really want to challenge themselves, the Challenge mode will have five tiers of progressively harder modes to play. Each challenge will have its own set of rules that make the game considerably harder and trickier. I jumped into a mode where all weapons were single-use items, so by the time I got several rounds into it, with shadow ghosts outnumbering me three to one, a shotgun might be nice with a bunch of ammo but a single shot that is useless after that shot, is almost pointless. This challenge will teach you to make every shot count, and will have you looking for that next weapon before even pulling the trigger on your current weapon. With 50 unique challenges to play through, this mode should keep you busy for a while.

Working together is great and all, but sometimes you just want to see who rules the roost. For that, you can jump into a couch deathmatch with your buddies, if you have the extra controllers of course. Deathmatch isn’t just you and your buds, though, as you’ll also be playing through the story levels as well. And those pesky ghosts and shadow ghosts will be around trying to take you out. At the end of each round, the person with the most kills gets a point, but then at the start of the next round they are handicapped by having to wait an extra couple of seconds to respawn. Respawning into a fight, with all weapons already picked up, is a major pain in the behind, but levels the playing field if one person seems to be dominating.

Extreme Exorcism looks to be a fun and fast paced game and its summer release can’t get here soon enough.