Sam Mitchell - BritGaming: http://britgaming.com
At least there’s a game demo, I was saved from expending four of my pounds. Exodus is a side scrolling 2D platform side scrolling exploration game by little known development studio Gathmac. A free demo is currently available on Steam and if you like it, you can pay £4 for the privilege of owning it. Except you won’t.
Some games you can tell have been subject to generous hours of quality assurance. Game testers have played the same level over and over to ensure that the game ships with few bugs, properly spelt in-game text and fluid, easy to understand controls. Exodus has received none of this QA. Which is a shame because the artists and music directors clearly have gone out on a limb to attempt to create something that might even pass as beautiful.
Exodus is not a game of many options. Firstly, as any PC gamer should do when starting a game for the first time, I made a beeline for the graphics settings. I have a fairly well spec’d gaming PC so I always make it a priority to ramp up every setting I can lay my hands on to achieve the best cinematic and graphical experience possible. I was presented with three graphics options. Fullscreen, Resolution and “High Definition”. That’s it. No AA settings, no shadows or lighting settings. Certainly no texture detail settings. Simply, do I want the game to be in HD or not. It was at this point I thought that I (and therefore Exodus) would be in for a rough ride.
Onwards we progress and I’m clicking the New Game option in earnest because for some reason, every time I click it I get launched out of the game and in to my FRAPS window. Fair enough this could be a PC config problem rather than a game bug but I’ve not had this happen on the myriad of other games I currently have installed. Once I’ve convinced the game to actually select “New Game”, the games penchant for limited options continues. I have the choice of playing as two separate characters, Zoulux or Lys’ax. One male, one female. Oh sure they had a couple of different stat options available but already by this point, I realised this probably will make little difference. Because I’m a guy and Zoulux was the default option, I chose him.
The premise, like with many other games set in space is that these aliens consumed all of the resources on their previous planet, their homeworld and set out on an intergalactic quest for a new home. No sooner had they found their new home, their ship was hit by space debris and was summarily destroyed. Only a few escape pods are dispatched for the new planet surface. Once they land, the race begins to set up shop and to make the planet habitable. To do this, they change the very ecosystem with their technology and quickly cause a cataclysm forcing them to go in to stasis for 100 cycles.
Here is where I came in and control was handed to me. I flopped out of my stasis pod and in to the game in much the same way a custard creme flops in to your mug of tea having been dunked for too long. Within seconds I was completely baffled by Gathmac’s decision on their game controls. Firstly, for a side scrolling platformer would it have been so hard to add controller support? There’s none in this game of mention. Secondly, if you’re going to make me use a mouse and keyboard, can you please stick with the standard tried and tested WASD? The default and unexplainable control layout in this game is as follows:
Move Left: Q
Move Right: D
If you’re reading this on a computer, just put your fingers over those keys for a second. Now imagine trying to navigate your way through a platformer with these controls. Oh it’s possible alright, you just have to be some sort of finger contortionist to play the game effectively though. After trying to play the game in the way the devs intended it for the first 5 minutes, I accessed the controls and changed them to a standard and much easier WASD format. After this, my performance in game noticeably improved.
The art style and music in Exodus look and sound passable. You’re in a high contrast environment that’s pleasing to the eye and the musical score is atmospheric if a little repetitive. I can’t say anything too negative about either of these aspects at this point, the issues of this game are not graphical or musical. Its design, writing and execution however leave a great deal to be desired.
The game is effectively ruined by terrible writing. Oh I’m not necessarily talking about the story itself although it’s a pretty generic premise. I’m talking about the grammar and spelling. The odd spelling or grammatical error often find their way in to games, especially independent ones and that’s fairly forgivable when you realise that the indie guys don’t have the budget of major developers for rigorous QA. Exodus however takes bad spelling and grammar to the next level and it’s to the point that it’s ridiculous and immersion breaking. The entirety of the game text is littered with it. Gathmac seem to think that by having an apostrophe between two words at random in a sentence constitutes grammar. No time or budget has been put toward any form of testing and the game is completely let down by this omission.
Move through the levels as your alien of choice collecting shiny orbs to spend on leveling up your skills and progress your way through a skill tree. Snooze town. Occasionally you’ll come across the local wildlife which you must claw to death with the left mouse button. There really isn’t anything nice to say about the combat system or the movement in game. Double jumping seems to only be enabled for certain jumps and not all, the combat consists of hammering the left mouse button which trying to keep your alien a respectable distance from harm and facing in the right direction. No mean feat if you haven’t already changed the default control layout let me tell you.
A while in to the demo, I became stuck. I was told in a roundabout way to “head east” which I attempted. I could see where the path was intending me to go but was completely unable to jump to reach the high ledge to progress my journey. Already dissatisfied with the game, I closed it off and came here to write a scathing review.
The demo is free, if you’re going to buy it for the love of all that’s good, play it first. The game is £4.
Not worth every penny, I wouldn’t want this even if it were free.http://britgaming.com/review-exodus/