Extreme Exorcism isn’t the name of a new TLC reality travesty, but rather an unconventional action game with a fun conceit. As a ghost exorciser extraordinaire, you’ll work through the grounds of a creepy old mansion bustin’ ghosts ‘til it makes you feel good. The catch is that the ghosts duplicate your every move. As the action gets more and more chaotic, Extreme Exorcism starts to feel more and more like a fun throwback to older arcade games like SmashTV.
Selecting from a cast of ghost hunters, you’ll do battle in themed arenas occupied by various obstacles like roving platforms and goo that makes you jump higher. The game’s Arcade mode is round based and charges you to score as many points as you try to survive. Score high enough and you’ll unlock new weapons and additional stages. The flow of the game couldn’t be more simple: at the start of each round, you’ll need to defeat a haunted object. As you cannot fight barehanded, you can collect up to three weapon pickups that spawn in random locations. There’s no need to choose between different weapons, as you’ll attack with all three at once. However, it’s good to have a blend of melee and ranged weapons to handle encounters both close and far. Defeating the haunted object will release a king ghost that will instantly end the match when exorcised. This is where things get a little nuts. In Round 2, the king ghost follows the exact same path you took to defeat the haunted object in Round 1. In Round 3, a second ghost accompanies a new king ghost and traces the route from the last round to defeat the previous king ghost. They’ll even be armed with whatever weapon used before. More rounds mean more ghosts and the action keeps going until you’re dead.
At first, the mimicking ghosts are easy enough to handle. It’s when you get to later rounds that things get more chaotic. Perhaps a little too chaotic. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the action, to fire a constant stream of bullets or chop the air with a sword until a ghost crosses your path. By not paying attention to what you’re doing, you set yourself up for grief later. Sure enough, the arena becomes a warzone requiring precise navigation (and a little dumb luck) to succeed. And that’s just in single player! I cannot begin to fathom playing this with three other people, especially when Deathmatch pits everyone against each to kill the most king ghosts. This is the sort of game that’d be fun to play with people in the same room, screaming and shouting each other as the stakes increase with every round. That may very well have been Golden Ruby’s intent because Extreme Exorcism does not seem to accommodate online play. (A funny thing to point out considering how much discussion there’s been towards the lack of single player campaigns in some recent full retail multiplayer games).
Should you tire from playing by yourself or with other people, a incredibly deep Challenge mode will keep you busy with a veritable crap load of challenging mini games. The parameters for completion range from “Huh, that was easy!” to “Holy crap, what the %&$@!” Divided into unlockable tiers, there is so much to do here. You’ll perform easy tasks like kill ten ghosts in four rounds and others that are much more intricate, like ensuring that six ghosts spawn into the room with a specific weapon in hand. It gets a little crazy and a little awesome.
Extreme Exorcism is a fun and frantic ghost hunt that makes for a great party game. Its retro visuals connect with the game’s overall classic feel. The game isn’t nearly as fun when played by yourself, though it’ll help prepare for some of the more devious challenges. The lack of online deathmatch is a minor inconvenience, though it’d be fun to watch people in the same room yell, scream, and cheer each other on as they compete to exorcise a house from a gaggle of ghoulish ghosts.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.