Exorcising makes me feel good.
The concept behind Extreme Exorcism is simple but novel. It’s a single-screen action platformer from first-time Wii U developers Golden Ruby Games where you use many different weapons to kill ghosts. Kill the right ghost and the round ends. The twist is that, in the next round, your moves and actions from the prior round become a ghost that you now have to defeat. And that’s it. That’s Extreme Exorcism. You try to clear as many rounds as possible, avoiding being done in by your own prior attacks. In that basic concept lies a decent amount of depth, especially when you factor in the four-player multiplayer modes.
The game is split into three modes: Arcade, Challenges, and Deathmatch. Arcade is the main focus, as you successively clear levels by setting a high score in each room. Challenges are a collection of progressively harder specific tasks for you to complete. Deathmatch is a TowerFall-esque multiplayer mode where you try to defeat your friends while also avoiding their ghosts. All three modes are fun, but outside of an amusing finale, the game’s sense of progression is a little stilted. Yes, you’re going from room to room in Arcade and unlocking new challenges, but since all of the enemies are the same, it goes on a little too long. You also slowly unlock more weapons as you kill ghosts. The weapons you unlock, such as land mines and a boomerang, are generally more technical to use, but if you learn how to use them right, can be far more deadly than your starting assortment of basic melee weapons and guns. The weapons are the best form of progression, as they actually dramatically change the way you play.
The Arcade mode is the most engaging, whether you play it by yourself or with three friends. Each level is from a room in a haunted mansion, and generally, each room has five unique configurations. They start off simple, with just a few platforms spread about the level, but they get more diverse and unique as you move on, with the bedroom levels featuring a bouncy bed and balcony levels featuring gusting wind.
Progressing from level to level isn’t that tough once you get the hang of it, though getting the hang of Extreme Exorcism is part of the fun. Because of the design, you need to be focused on economically using your weapons. Once you get a shotgun, which fires off a close-range spread-like burst, you don’t want to just hop around the level firing at will. You want to make sure your shots count or else, if you do make it to the next round, you have to contend with a shotgun-spamming ghost. Clearing through ghosts while utter chaos erupts around me is extremely rewarding, and it’s even better when you expertly use a rare exorcism weapon to exorcise your past ghosts. The single-player mode almost becomes a ghastly version of memory, as you try to keep tabs on your created ghosts so you can evade their attacks.
Add anywhere from one to three friends in Arcade mode and it becomes something slightly different. Multiplayer in Arcade mode is, on the whole, far easier. When players lose their three lives, they can be revived by the others when a certain number of ghosts are killed. Play your cards right and you could be wiping out ghosts for a long time. Only the killer of the primary ghost is ghosted in the next round, so if you work together, you can strategize to be efficient with killing other ghosts while not making your future ghost be that diabolical. If you’re not that coordinated (and you likely won’t be), then multiplayer in this mode can become very chaotic.
Even crazier than multiplayer Arcade is the Deathmatch. This highly customizable four-player mode is very reminiscent of the single-screen competitive mayhem of TowerFall, but with a ghostly twist. Players try to be the last one standing in a series of rounds and at the close of each round, the winner earns a ghost that then joins the field, ready to slaughter others. Of course that’s only one version of Deathmatch, as you can tweak it in a variety of ways, ranging from the level’s gravity to making ghosts explode on contact.
Extreme Exorcism is a fun game bolstered by an extraordinarily unique concept. The game’s campaign wears a little thin by the end, but the ride from start to finish is delightful. If you have friends to play with, the multiplayer is well worth the price of admission, as the weapon variety and unbridled insanity make it a hell of a time.