Playing The Same Level 18 Times
HIGH A ’90s throwback with fast and smooth gameplay.
LOW The uninspiring and repetitive levels.
WTF Great (but minimal) music on a constant loop.
As a gamer in my mid 30s, I have a soft spot for ’90s era of first-person shooters. I loved the quick, smooth and simplistic gameplay that sometimes gets lost in modern titles (I’m looking at you Doom Eternal!) and I’m clearly not the only one who feels nostalgic for this style since as there are now similar throwback shooters flooding the market, Exodemon being one.
Developed by Kuupa, players control a scientist in a laboratory at the edge of the universe who has been infected by a symbiotic entity. She has been able to control this entity, and as a result now sports alien claws used for melee attacks and for shooting. Players then use these claws to fight their way through 18 levels filled with enemies.
Exodemon makes a good first impression. The play is fast and smooth, and has a slightly different feel compared to other first-person shooters due to the claws. These each have their own corresponding shoulder button and it felt intuitive to to slash with one claw and shoot with the other. Exodemon also incorporates its UI diegetically by placing the health and ammo bars on the claws themselves. I always like it when developers are creative with UI implementation, and it helps ensure that there’s a nice, uncluttered look to the proceedings.
The graphics are simple but colorful, featuring blue security bots as enemies. The laboratory setting initially looks drab as it largely consists of grey corridors. However, I was sure that as the game went on I would find more interesting enemies and levels, but sadly, that never happened.
With a few exceptions, the entirety of Exodemon is set in the same drab and grey laboratory levels. The enemies do change, but these continue to have designs that are lacking in creativity and simple to a fault.
I did not expect Exodemon to live up to the visual fidelity of contemporary games, and it shouldn’t, but the best shooters from the ’90s used interesting designs whilst working within the limits of the era’s hardware. I had high hopes for a visually appealing experience, but instead Exodemon ended up being an ugly game, and it’s hard to feel any kind of tension from visually boring enemies.
Like the graphics, the gameplay also fails to develop over time.
Exodemon is fast and smooth, and using the claws adds an interesting wrinkle. However, the player simply doesn’t feel powerful. Rather than offering a power fantasy, the slash attack doesn’t do enough damage and actually leaves the player prone to taking damage. As such, Exodemon encourages the player to keep their distance and play it safe. Sadly, the shooting lacks impact thanks to tinny sound effects and an absence of discernible feedback when the enemies take damage.
Surprisingly, what Exodemon does well are the platforming elements. I have never been a fan of platforming in first-person shooters, but here it feels fine. The jumping isn’t too floaty, and whenever I misjudged a jump it felt like a mistake that was my fault, and not the game’s.
Sadly, decent platforming is not enough to save Exodemon. I was looking forward to a dose of ’90s era nostalgia offering visceral shooting at high speed, but what I got was a drab-looking project which is far too simple and greatly lacking creativity in art design. It may seem competent at first, but Exodemon lacks anything to keep it interesting past the first few levels.
Disclosures: This game is developed by and published by Kuupa. It is currently available on XBO, XBX/S, PS4, PS5, Switch and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single player mode and the game was completed.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains Fantasy Violence. Whilst Exodemon is a shooter, it lacks any overly violent or explicit imagery. Overall, I’d say Exodemon is safe for kids.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Exodemon has no dialogue. Its minimal story is told between levels in text. This cannot be resized and features white letters on a black background. There is an audio advantage from being able to hear enemy fire from outside the player’s line of sight, and this fire has no visual cue.
Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable. There is no control diagram. Players can invert Y and can adjust sensitivity. This game does not offer a controller map diagram, but movement is on the left stick. Camera is the right stick. Jumping is X. Slashing with the left claw is R2 and shooting with the right is L2.