Tag Archives: Puzzle Platformer

Extreme Exorcism Review

logoExtreme Exorcism has a deceptively simple premise. Eliminate the phantasms appearing on the screen, within your 3 allocated lives, to reach a set score and unlock the next arena in which you must eliminate further phantasms: simple, concise, deceptive.

You see, Extreme Exorcism utilises a mechanic which, although similar to certain indie games, is utilised in a new and unique way.

Picking one of four individual pixel based protagonists, you are dropped into the first arena with a poltergeist infected chair. Dotted around the level are pick up zones, where randomly generated weaponry spawns, anything ranging from a sword or a baseball bat up to automatic machine guns, rocket launchers and a special Exorcism ability. From this plethora of destruction you can equip up to three of these items simultaneously.

Despatching the phantom furniture resets the level but now, instead of hunting an armchair apparition, you are instead hunting yourself. While you were battling the first spectre, the game tracked all of your movements and any attacks you conducted. So now you must eradicate with extreme prejudice your earlier embodiment while avoiding any attacks that you previously performed.

battle

With each new ghostly version of yourself recounting each movement and attack that you have performed in your previous attempt, things get complicated as you manoeuvre around multiple incarnations of yourself to hunt down your very last spawn. This is made possible, as the phantasm of your last run is topped with a distinctive crown.

Furthermore, as you may imagine, once you get beyond 10 runs, your screen becomes overwhelmed with ghostly apparitions of your former selves, which is where the Exorcism ability comes into its own.

This unique and infrequent ability not only kills anything that comes within its large radius of attack, but also wipes them clean from history. Position yourself correctly, where you know previous manifestations will pass, and you can reset your enemies back to a handful of paths, or if you are extremely tactical in how you approach each successive attempt it is possible to reset back to a single adversary.

high level

Progression is achieved by racking up a sufficient score to unlock the next level and with 5 levels per stage and 8 stages in the game; you have 40 levels to conquer in total with each successive stage having a more complex layout than the last. If you are like me though, you will continue until all 3 of your lives are lost which will place you higher on the leader boards associated to each stage.

Alongside the Arcade mode, which can be played with up to 4 players local co-op, you also have 50 increasingly difficult challenges, imposing trials that will test every ounce of your ghost hunting skills. Finally there is also a local team deathmatch which pits you against your friends to find out who reigns supreme in their ghost hunting skills.

As you rank higher and higher for each stage, new weapons are unlocked, and while these weapons are typically more powerful, they also tend to have unique and more complicated firing paths which tend to make each successive incarnation more perplexing and fraught with dangers.

Extreme Exorcism is first and foremost a platformer, but Golden Ruby Games have managed to lock in a mechanic that, while simple, is completely addictive and fun.

If you enjoy platform action puzzlers, I cannot recommend this highly enough.

Thanks to Xbox and Golden Ruby Games for supporting TiX

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Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark review

With clever references to particle physics and some amusing dialogue and characters, Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark offers something a little different from its usual puzzle platforming ilk, channelling a little Psychonauts personality to make it stand out from the crowd. However, some poor level design and heavy repetition does eat away at the charm.

You play as Schrödinger’s Cat, a wise-cracking agent summoned by the head of a particle zoo to help them recapture escaped particles that are running amuck. It’s a colourful, amusing and clever setup that ties everything in to the particle physics theme brilliantly, although the dialogue is a little on the nose about it. Mostly, however, it’s funny and charming enough to drive you forwards, as you travel through the zoo using quarks to capture gluons, leptons, bosons, etc.

Schrodingers Cat 1

The gathering and then combining of quarks provides the tools you need to navigate levels and capture particles. Quarks come in four different types: Up, Down, Construction, and Destruction; with each assigned to a shoulder button. Combining them in different sets of three creates one of 12 possible tools, such as helicopter blades to fly Schrödinger’s Cat a short distance, a flimsy ledge to temporarily stand on, a missile to destroy specific scenery, or a net to capture particles. Creating these tools from the limited quarks you’ve gathered and finding creative ways to overcome obstacles is a compelling challenge, and the crux of Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark’s experience.

On levels where quark numbers are limited and the level’s layout challenges your quark management, the experience is terrific. There are multiple tools to achieve similar things, such as the helicopter blades and temporary ledges for gaining height, and finding the best ones for a situation whilst preserving quarks to give you options further along in the level is a great puzzle built from the mechanics. However, between these meticulously designed levels are randomly generated ones for you to carve your way through inelegantly. Additionally, some odd choices in background colour can make finding the white gluon particles a chore.

Schrodingers Cat 2

It would be easy enough to forgive the odd poor level if it wasn’t for the slow pace and repetitiveness that kicks in after the first couple of hours. As you meet characters from the particle zoo, they clue you in on how to capture particles and use quarks, as well as sending you on fetch quests to gradually open up more of the zoo so you can find a way into the control room. It becomes a bit of a Metroidvania experience, although the item or character you’re chasing may change, the quark combining navigation stays the same and loses it intrigue through heavy repetition. Additionally Schrödinger’s Cat’s one liners soon grate, as his initial charming scamp personality turns to frustrating smart aleck.

Schrodingers Cat 3

It’s a real shame, as the mechanics, setting and dialogue between characters is very clever and scientifically accurate and appropriate, and certainly the puzzle platforming is a fun challenge to begin with, but the title runs out of tricks a little too early and makes the second half of the game dull and frustrating. Fortunately sign boards at the beginning of each level tell you the number of loose particles within that level, narrowing the search when you’re hunting for specific particles, and quick respawns after death as well as a quark combining guide on the pause screen hint at the other well designed aspects of the game.

Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark is a smart and enjoyable puzzle platformer for the most part, but eventually it falls into a trap of frustration and repetition. Your millage with it will very much depend on your tolerance for the one liners, samey paltforming and quark puzzles, and your interest in the science behind it all.

Thanks to Team 17 for supplying TiX with a promotional copy

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