Retro shooters have a well-trodden formula these days, so anytime a game sets out to tweak that, the results vacillate between clever and calamitous. Exodemon happens to come down on the side of cleverness, tweaking the process in just the right ways to cleverly mask a small development team while making the experience a fun one.
Whereas the platforming elements of most old-school shooters can be frustrating, this is actually the best asset of Exodemon, with a smattering of jumping puzzles and secrets scattered through its five-hour runtime. While the gunplay is sufficient, the most interesting change to the formula is the game’s interplay between melee and guns. Your arms actually serve as the UI, showing the health and selected weapons on the grotesque monster claws of your unlucky scientist-turned-monster – the titular Exodemon.
You can tell which gun you’re using based on both the colour of your arm, as well as the rune pictured on the top of your hand, and cycling through is a breeze. Between the variety of weapons, and how cleverly they are integrated into the experience of the title, everything is easy to follow right out of the gate. Mowing down the various enemies – most of which are programmed with some form of “charge right at you” attack – becomes second nature quickly, and navigating the game’s impressively large levels is truly a treat.
While the levels make no logical sense in true retro shooter fashion, they do make game sense, all having clearly defined layouts that expertly navigate you through some truly massive environments. One standout is an entire level that takes place within a canyon, with a foreboding level of verticality. The design knows just which cues to provide you, and actually finding where to go is no more challenging than with any other modern game. While many of the environments rely heavily on white tiled walls, as you progress further outside, more colour breathes life into the world, a most welcome change.