Extreme Exorcism: A Game Where Your Worst Enemy Is Yourself

By Alex Riviello , Updated Feb 15, 2015 09:13 PM EST
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As gamers, we all understand frustration, and yet we love it. We love when a game is so gloriously tricky that we need to work at understanding it, perfecting it, and then, of course, crushing it. But what happens when the source of your frustration is actually.... you?

Extreme Exorcism isn’t the kind of game that allows you to blame cheap AI for your many inevitable deaths, or even the kind of game that you can blame sloppy controls. It plays just fine- it’s you that’s the problem. And the better you get at the game, the harder it will be for you.

In Extreme Exorcism you control exorcist Mae Barrons, a professional ghostbuster who is called into a haunted house in order to remove the spirits inhabiting it. You’ll do so with everything from swords to rocket launchers- these ghosts don’t seem to need any specific equipment to be killed.

But there's just one problem: every time you kill a ghost you'll start over again and an additional ghost will appear, perfectly mimicking the moves you just made. Any attacks you took against the last ghost, the new ghost will, and they will now be lethal to you. As you kill each successive ghost more and more ghosts from your previous playthroughs will appear on screen until you're dodging and weaving through countless ghosts from your past..

It’s like Super Meat Boy, if every one of your past attempts was trying to kill you.

This also means that the longer you survive, the harder it is, as you try to rack your brain in order to remember what you did the last few kills in order to not become a victim of your own actions. Wrap your head around that one.

So yes, you will be the only person to blame for your own death, but the game does support multiplayer. Four players can play at once, and you can immediately imagine the chaos this creates. It’s a simple, brilliant idea, and it works.

At this weekend’s IndieCade East we sat down in the 2001-themed cafe of the Museum of the Moving Image to check out Extreme Exorcism with Mike Christatos, Founder and COO of Golden Ruby Games. The studio is based in NYC, so this is right in their backyard, and there was no more perfect place to experience the game than surrounded by like-minded indie titles.

Christatos let me know it took a mere eight months from concept (designing the levels on post-it notes!) to this near-final version, which definitely wears it influence on its sleeve. A library that had floating books was a dead ringer for Castlevania, and some of the weapons seemed to be taken from classic games, although there were a whole lot more of them. Why wouldn’t you just always just pick up the best ones, though?

“Unlike most shooters, the more powerful weapons are also the most troublesome ones,” he said. I soon saw what he meant when he started using a gun that shot giant Bullet Bill-sized bullets and they filled the screen, forcing him to dodge on his next life. Sometimes it will make sense to use weaker weapons since they won't be as hard to avoid during later turns.

As if one weapon wasn't hard enough, the game employs a unique system where you can actually triple-wield weapons. The first three weapons you pick up will be held at once, and will all fire (or swing, or what have you) with the tap of a button. If you pick up another weapon, it will swap out the first.

Not only do all the weapons have different attacks but they will also move your character in different ways- some will knock you various directions, such as the uppercut, which takes you into the air. One of Andy’s favorite combos was the lighting bolt and uppercut, which provides a powerful upwards attack, and seems like it would be incredible during a multiplayer battle..

“It was originally designed as a single player experience,” Christatos notes, which was surprising, since it works so well as a multiplayer title that on Saturday they featured it as the eSports title for a few hours, projecting it onto a giant wall for the audience to play.

The local multiplayer will clearly keep you playing but the campaign is no slouch either, as it will offer 10 areas (library, cemetery, attic, etc.) with multiple levels along with a final boss, as well as a challenge mode that offers 50 unique challenges. He showed me one where you were handed a machine gun and had to kill a ghost every 12 seconds. A countdown clock started as soon as he began the level and the pressure was on.

When asked if any updates were in the works post-release, Christatos states that they’d love to include new characters, weapons and modes, but it all depends on how strong sales are.

Extreme Exorcism will be out sometime later this year via Ripstone Publishing on Xbox One, PS4, and PC via Steam. They are is looking for as close to a simultaneous release as possible. It's clear that this game will be a treat for anyone looking for the next great challenge, even if the challenge turns out to be yourself.

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