Patience. This is the one key element you’ll need to bring to Wildfire Games’s fast hack and slash side-scrolling RPG. It’s no walking in the beautifully ink-drawn park.
Eastern Exorcist is difficult but it’s also fair and very beautiful, which makes it easy to forgive and keep coming back to, however many times you die. The game’s story is based on Chinese Opera and focuses on your character and his brothers-in-arms, exorcists on a mission to find the King Mandrill, an evil tyrant who thinks nothing of attacking villages and stealing souls. Unfortunately, as you’re distracted by an evil spirit your brothers are attacked and you come back to find them massacred. It’s a well told adventure that suffers a little from the current translation as the story is told in English subtitles with Chinese voice artists. The developers have said that a better translation is coming, though, and the game is still in Early Access.
The biggest element of the game is combat. There are light RPG elements involved for magic but combat is all important and you’ll need that patience and mastery of your moves in order to defeat the many boss creatures that stand in your way on your road to vengeance against your brothers. An easy difficulty is available for those who find it a little too much but it feels like cheating when the game gives you a decent chance to learn and adapt anyway. Action is fluid and there are plenty of different enemies to fight, though the combat does become repetitive after you get half way unless you’re fighting a boss.
The upgrading process takes two strands; your general health, strength and stamina can be increased along with choosing a path for your exorcist powers to follow which determines the type of magic attacks you can possess. It’s nowhere are complicated as many other games but still a nice touch and something to make your character feel a little unique.
Artwork is very impressive and it sets the game apart from other side-scrollers. The Chinese ink styling fits the story and settings perfectly and the action moves fluidly, so it feels like a painting come to life at times, especially with the more impressive screen-filling boss characters.
While it has a lot to recommend, Eastern Exorcist isn’t without its faults. The English translation aside, the game is only about 6-7 hours long and has little replay value at present. The upgrade tree is fairly simple for those spoilt by other games with more choice over character upgrades, too, though it does fit the game as it feels a pretty linear package in general.
If you fancy playing through a traditional Chinese style story with excellent artwork and challenging fights then Eastern Exorcist has you sorted. Just be prepared to die a lot in the process.