I am drawn to games with interesting and unique art styles. It can really set one game apart from the rest of the field these days, where many games seem to be influenced by others. When I first watched the trailer for Eastern Exorcist, my attention was immediately grabbed by the Chinese ink painting. The simplistic but well executed drawings are just what I like. On top of that, its a side scrolling action game, so the nostalgia I have for NES and SNES classics drew me in further. I figured I had to play it!
Set in ancient China, you play as a monk that has been tasked with exorcising demons that plague the countryside. In some ways, it reminded me of Castlevania, just set in a fictional world with Chinese influences. An awesome art style, side scrolling action-adventure, and something new. It was checking a lot of the boxes that I look for in a game.
As I mentioned prior, Eastern Exorcist has a really unique and stunningly executed art style. Wildfire Games, didn’t go for realistic graphics, or a really animated style, or the retro pixel style that is common in side scrolling action-adventure games these days. They wanted to make something unique, and it worked out very well for them. Artistically, I have nothing but praise for Eastern Exorcist. Having not played a game with Chinese ink painting style before, I really dug it. It’s like having stylized graphics but having them based somewhat in reality.
As far as gameplay goes, Eastern Exorcist doesn’t do a whole lot that is new compared to other games in the genre. That’s ok though as many games try to do too much in terms of new mechanics. This isn’t a bad idea since complex gameplay can detract from the atmosphere of a game. The one new mechanic I really like is after you deplete an enemies’ health, you need to exorcise the demon. This is a quick action that sends these demons packing. Failure to do this quick enough, and the demon’s health will replenish and they will be stronger.
In terms of difficulty, Eastern Exorcist certainly offers more than a fair share. I had to drop the difficulty level down to the easiest setting for a few boss fights, It can be challenging dodging the flurry of attacks and different moves that the bosses use. You have to deplete a bosses shield, stunning them momentarily, so that you can do massive damage to their health. Overall, I enjoy the gameplay of Eastern Exorcist.
Eastern Exorcist doesn’t have a whole lot of variety in it. You go from one mission to the next, beat same baddies along the way and end with a boss. There are some light platforming elements but I would have really liked some puzzles. It’s not that the game is bad or boring, it just the gameplay loop leaves a little to be desired. You do have items that you give to NPCs to progress in some areas, but it is much more limited than Metroidvanias. You don’t unlock new abilities that change the way you move or how the game plays fundamentally. It’s kind of like listening to the same song repeatedly, but different mixes of it.
Another issue I had was the combat skills. You gain several of them as you play, and you can modify what they do using XP. This is all well and good. However, the explanations on how each one is used and how many stack you need in order to get them to activate is confusing. I couldn’t easily determine when I would be able to use some skills, so I avoided those and used the ones I could rely on. I admit, some of this is my fault since I could have dedicated more time to learning them. However, they should have been easily explained and streamlined in my opinion. Unclear instructions can make parts of a game seem pointless. The skills in Eastern Exorcist are a good example of this.
The Final Verdict:
Eastern Exorcist looks awesome, and is fun to play. If you are looking for a straightforward action-adventure game, this is one I recommend checking out. Granted, it could use some more variety, but overall, it is a GOOD game.