I didn’t really know what to expect before jumping into Eastern Exorcist. Many of its themes had my interest, but I had my doubts on how that would translate to actual gameplay. Although it may have the appeal of an everyday indie game, Eastern Exorcist stands out with some challenging 2D gameplay paired with Souls-like systems.
Eastern Exorcist doesn’t shy away from setting up the idea that you are an exorcist tasked with laying to rest as many demons as you can. The game’s lore is very much tied to Chinese folklore, and the developers do a great job of immersing players in this premise through frequent cutscenes. Sure, the gameplay has the spotlight, but the story here does enough gives players a sense of place within this universe.
The art direction plays a significant role in this presentation with the use of bold character designs and graphic imagery. The game isn’t afraid to show some of it’s darker themes, I mean, you are fighting off demons here, so it’s’ to be expected.
The gameplay is a mixed bag that I didn’t completely understand at first. It’s responsive, but it does take some getting used to. It doesn’t help that the menus aren’t user friendly at all, and it’s tough to understand the skills that you have access to or how to use them effectively.
Actions are tied to a stamina meter, which only adds to the game’s challenge. Enemies are pretty unforgiving, but it’s possible to guard, dodge, and combos groups of them to make it through. However, once you kill an enemy, you need to send them to the afterlife using dispel. If you don’t do this in time, they will revive and become a bit more agro. It sells the idea that you are an exorcist, and once you find a rhythm, it becomes easier to manage along with all the other elements going on.
One thing I didn’t like is how you have to clear each section of enemies before moving to the next screen. The game’s difficulty borrows elements from Souls titles, but here if you die, the enemy who killed you will become stronger, including bosses. Furthermore, each time an enemy is killed, you get points that can be spent to level up or replenish your items.
So, having the player clear the screen of all enemies takes away some of the variations between runs, which means that I’m forced to have a specific amount of points once I get to shrine. I think it would be more interesting if I made a choice to just pass enemy encounters and suffer the consequences of my actions later on when I don’t have enough points to level up.
The challenge of Eastern Exorcist finds its way into the boss battles, which will test your skills and knowledge of the combat. However, I think the developer needs to work on the user experience more and making the systems easier to understand so that players can get the most out of them. Also, the English text font is pretty bland and doesn’t really work with the game’s theme.
As is stands, Early Access is excellent for Eastern Exorcist since it gives the developers a chance to iron these systems out. Still, I think the premise and gameplay systems are unique enough to stand out in the sea of other games out there.
We are definitely looking forward to seeing more of Eastern Exorcist in the future, which is available on Steam Early Access now.
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