The story behind Exodemon is one of loss and perseverance. At some point during development, the creators lost Exodemon's files. As a result, developers Kupuu salvaged part of this lost build and created an old hacked, version of their game. From the brink of death, Exodemon returned and was born anew, but I can't help but think to myself what kind of game it would be in its original state. As it stands, Exodemon is a bland, disappointing mess of a shooter.
Developed by Brazilian-based studio Kupuu, Exodemon is an FPS in the mold of 90s shooters. In Exodemon, you take the role of a scientist infected with an alien virus. This symbiote transforms you into a badass alien-killing machine, armed with a vicious claw that swipes enemies and a hand which shoots various projectiles like a gun. With around 18 levels total, Exodemon emphasizes a "no handholding" approach and features areas of heavy platforming.
Level Design in Exodemon
One of my favorite aspects of games like Heretic or Half-Life is their unparalleled level design. Despite the limitations of technology back in the 90s, these games manage to create exciting, large environments filled with vibrant detail and many hidden secrets. Newer titles like Amid Evil and Dusk excel in this regard as well, making every area feel different from the last. Exodemon, on the other hand, features some of the most uncompelling, bland level design in recent memory.
Exodemon's setting is wholly within a scientific facility. Or, that's as far as I can tell from its vague story. From the beginning levels to the last, the walls of this lab are the same drab grey. Furthermore, very little detail is in the environment. The wall textures are almost completely blank and a few computers or lab equipment litter rooms throughout each level, but for the most part, everything seems so vacuous. Around midway through Exodemon, the levels begin to change a bit. Areas transition from inside-only, sterile lab environments to outside areas filled with rocks and lava. Occasionally, areas become a tad more interesting when there are neon signs soaking the sky with their bright lights. But, if you play the first level, you essentially see all that Exodemon has to offer.
These are complaints about the art direction more than overall level design, so the layout of levels aren't terrible. Exodemon is an FPS that offers ample platforming to reach secret areas or progress further. The movement of your character is consistently fast and platforming isn't slippery. This is one of Exodemon's saving graces. Since platforming seems to be such an integral part of the gameplay and it feels smooth rather than difficult. Platforming and combat seem almost mutually exclusive, but I believe gameplay would be more exciting if these two coincided more often.
Combat in Exodemon
If the level design of a shooter is subpar, one saving grace could be its gunplay. Both are extremely important in creating a competent FPS, but again, Exodemon fails to excel in this area as well. I will admit that I do love the idea that your hands are your weapons rather than guns. Blasting alien foes with your hand while swiping them with the other when they approach too close is a satisfying concept. There's no oomph behind your gun-like hand, however, and Exodemon constantly starves you from ammo.
Addressing the issue of ammo, Exodemon appears designed with limited ammo in mind. Perhaps this is to emphasize your claw melee weapon. The claw is decent but it requires several swipes to take out more powerful enemies, and you must close the distance to attack with it, leaving you vulnerable. Shooting with your hand is a much more viable option. However, I was constantly on the hunt for more ammo throughout my playthrough. There are two reasons behind this: unsubstantial ammo pickups and inaccuracy.
Ammo pickups sit throughout levels, but they provide less than adequate amounts of rounds for your hand-gun hybrid. Killing enemies usually drops more ammo, but these drops rarely replenish a large amount. Even worse is how inaccurate guns are. The base weapon, which I assume is like a pistol, shoots bullets that hardly ever hit their mark. Usually, these bullets skew to the side, requiring players to get too close to enemies to make it useful. Shooting all other guns rapidly creates a large amount of recoil indicated by the crosshair. It's hard to go full blast with any weapon because it wastes ammo.
Furthermore, as a result of high recoil, the gunplay feels so unsatisfying. Standing in place while slowly shooting to snipe an enemy isn't fun. Exodemon should be non-stop running and gunning, but the game mechanics prevent me from living out my badass alien-demon fantasy. Upon taking a shot, enemies simply let loose a wimpy grunt and a small trickle of blood. It's fine, but nothing so enthralling as, say, Amid Evil. I'm not saying an FPS needs gratuitous violence, but it should have good player feedback. I never felt this was the case in Exodemon.
Weapon variety is sparse, as well. You have around six weapons total, all in the form of a hand. Essentially, you have a pistol, shotgun, sniper, rocket launcher, and machine gun. Another hand-gun charges up but shoots out pitifully slow and weak bullets. This was a late-game weapon that never seemed useful at all. Of these several weapons, nothing stood out, and nothing was original. You're this awesome alien hybrid, so shouldn't there be guns that act more, well, alien?
Exodemon Review | Final Thoughts
A few more annoyances make Exodemon even more difficult to recommend. The soundtrack in Exodemon comprises two songs, with one that plays for only a few seconds at the start of a level and another that is constantly on loop. There isn't a compelling story or really any effort in making one, either. Upon loading up a level, the loading screen contains a few lines of exposition from the point of view of your character. It adds no meaning to the gameplay whatsoever. Lastly, the results screen after each level constantly relays false information. After all of my missions, I had a high percentage of kills (oftentimes reaching over 100 percent) but zero percent accuracy. It catalogs deaths, but sometimes I never died on the level.
Overall, Exodemon is disappointment that fails to imitate any sort of 90s FPS gameplay. It just feels like a bland, boring shooter with an interesting concept. The two most important aspects of an FPS are severely lacking in Exodemon - gunplay and level design. Guns are extremely inaccurate and uninspired, and level design is the same thing after another. Despite these issues, I will continue to follow Kupuu's progress in restoring Exodemon from this current ramshackle build to the game it is supposed to be. I hope that once the developers manage to recover what was lost, it becomes a game worth playing.
- Decent Platforming Gameplay
- Interesting Concept
- Terrible Art Direction
- No Interesting Weapons
- Very Unfun Gunplay
- Limited Player Feedback