Exanima, released in 2015 and originally backed on the crowd funding site KickStarter, is a rare beast indeed that has attracted a world wide cult following partly due to its unnervingly realistic physics based combat system but also because it is unlike anything you would have played before. On the face of it Exanima appears to be a standard dungeon crawler but take a closer look and there is a lot more than initially meets the eye. Set in a dark and original world this game has been turning heads since its release.
Unusual for a combat based game, the isometric perspective can take a while to get used to but it’s well worth your perseverance, and the isometric view which at first can feel like a hindrance actually allows you to pursue a higher level of tactics and strategy than a first person perspective might have done. The graphics are fairly good and certainly do the job but the world they depict is outstanding.
It’s not the easiest game to master and the combat can, at first, seem counter intuitive, but once you get the hang of it the world you are drawn into is amazingly absorbing and you really do feel part of the action. The fully interactive surroundings and environment add an unusual dimension to this game; barrels, tables and everything else for that matter can be used to help defend yourself from a deadly attack and if you manoeuvre cleverly enough you can often defeat your opponents based almost solely on your foot work!
The AIs are smart and hard to beat though and it will require skill to come out on top. The levels can seem exhausting and with health being in short supply throughout, you will feel like you have achieved something remarkable when you complete one.
It’s worth noting, especially if this challenge sounds daunting, that the game has an excellent arena mode where you can practise your combat skills before you enter the labyrinth so you do have the opportunity to get your blade wet, so to speak, before you begin the game proper.
The combat is based on real world physics, one of the game’s main selling points, so that means, for example, that if you begin your sword swing very near to the body of your opponent the damage will be minimal and you will also be out of position putting you in danger of receiving a thrusting stab in return. The controls are different from what you may be used to as well in that you can change the momentum of the weapon by moving your mouse; this will add or subtract from the damage your strike inflicts.
The arsenal of weaponry in this game is quite impressive, and each weapon has different features which means that you can, if you wish, specialise on one weapon, the broad sword for instance, and really hone your skills in that area.
And if all that wasn’t enough this stylish game comes at a very reasonable price. If you haven’t played Exanima yet and you’re a fan of the sword fighting genre or of dungeon crawlers in general, you have to try this one, it is guaranteed to astound you.