Developer: Golden Ruby Games
Genre: Adventure/Action (read as: Puzzle with platform elements)
Release Date: 9/23/2015
Finally, the field of exorcism gets the respect it deserves! That is, to say, a throwback style game with landmines, throwing axes, and guns that shoot bullets the size of Suzuki Samurais.
There are no cut-scenes in Extreme Exorcism; you just pick up and play. So, here is what I can figure out as the story: you play as Mae Barrons, an unconventional medium who obliterates ghosts with weapons more befitting Duke Nukem than Zelda Rubenstein. (Though, her name does pay homage to Zelda’s character in Poltergeist as well as Whoopi Goldberg’s character in Ghost.)
You can also play as Sylvia Barrons, a character known as Ace Blade, and Mikoto Itako. I don’t know anything about them, but I think Ace is the only dude. So I’m warning you that these are mostly lady ghost busters, if that sort of thing bothers you. Then again, the graphics style is so retro that the characters have only slightly more definition than the Mooninites. Ergo, these sprites won’t awaken any gender fluid feeling in you and your fragile masculinity is probably going to be safe.
Wait. What was I talking about?
Extreme Exorcism plays like the bastard lovechild of Bubble Bobble and The Outfoxies. Alternately, maybe if Smash Brothers and Wrecking Crew decided to get married, become atheist humanitarians, and adopt a bunch of underprivileged games from the third world. Extreme Exorcism would be their Maddox, if Maddox is the good one.
Here is how it works. You start in a room, which consists of a single screen. The rooms include a graveyard, a bedroom, a kitchen, a balcony, an attic, and so on. The rooms have a different pitfall to avoid: the kitchen has a column of flames, the bedroom has bouncy beds, the balcony has winds that blow your character around, and so on. Each room has levels. You unlock the next level by passing a benchmark score in the previous level. You unlock the next room by passing a benchmark score of the previous room’s level score.
The stages consist of a side view, two dimensional space, and your character has to jump on and off platforms to get around. She gets a pretty impressive double jump, so none of that is tricky. The tricky part comes from the conceit of the game, i.e. the ghosts.
Each level has rounds. Round one has one ghost that doesn’t do much. You pick up a random weapon from a spawning location and kill the ghost. Round two begins and there is still one ghost. This time, however, the ghost does what you did in round one. If you had a shotgun and went crazy with it, the ghost does that thing. Round three has a new ghost that does what you did in round two and a ghost that does what you did in round one. Round four has a ghost that does what you did in round three, a ghost that does what you did in round two and a ghost that does what you did in round one.
The most recent ghost wears a crown. Kill him and you pass that round, whether or not you kill any of the other ghosts. You get three hearts, and lose a heart every time a ghost successfully attacks you. The level is done when you lose these hearts. You’re going to lose those hearts eventually, as each round throws more and more ghosts at you. The game is set up in the mobile game Angry Birds style though, where you aren’t continuously going from one level to the next. You just have to do well enough on the previous level to unlock the next.
There is a wide variety of weapons, and you unlock more and more as you progress. There are guns, swords, throwing stars, throwing knives, throwing axes, magic staffs, ricocheting bullets, land mines, grenade launchers, harpoons, boomerangs, and more. They have different ranges and patterns and uses. Plus, you can hold three weapons at once, and they all will fire at the same time. This is great if you want to kill every last morbid figure in the room, but terrible when a ghost is shooting in all directions in the subsequent rounds.
The most useful weapon is probably the exorcism, which surrounds you with a bubble that permanently kills every ghost that touches it. You will be desperate for these things around round ten. They are the straight Tetris block of Extreme Exorcism. They are your final smash. They are your invincibility star. They are your Elvis.
The game’s controls are simple and amazingly effective. The music is great and the visuals are cute, but what keeps you playing Extreme Exorcism is the strategy component. Do you go crazy and kill all the ghosts, do a series of surgical strikes, stay still as long as possible, focus on one corner of the screen, set it up so that you are constantly flanking the ghosts, or what have you? There are myriad ways to play.
By the time I got to the final boss, I was able to beat him by using a mostly pacifist philosophy. Spoiler, upon beating the game you are treated to a win screen with a ghost pun.
All in all, I think that the arcade mode of Extreme Exorcism is a great game to play obsessively for a week or so. Then you can beat the challenges. Then you can waste some time with the up to four-player arena fighting mode.
Short Attention Span Summary
Extreme Exorcism is a wonderful way to waste a few hours. Its controls are simple and the gameplay is addictive. Beating a level requires strategic thinking and, sometimes, a bit of luck. Extreme Exorcism is an overall pleasant experience, and I really don’t have anything bad to say about it. Fans of the genre (whatever the heck you would call this retro platforming puzzle genre) should check it out.