Published by: Bilibili
Developed by: Wildfire Games
It should go without saying that Ghostbusters is one of the best franchises of all time. Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray are comedy gold at the best of times. However, together, there was just magic. Ignore the fact that the two famously dislike each other. And disregard the 2016 all-female “reboot”. That thing needs to be stricken from everybody‘s memories.
When it comes right down to it, Ghostbusters was a wonderful moment in time. It gave birth to a number of memes and phrases that some still use to this day (“don’t cross the stream”). The concept of the movie is just as bonkers as the legacy it left.
Now, eagle-eyed readers will note that this is a review for Eastern Exorcist and not Ghostbusters. So, why on earth am I rabbiting on about it so much? Well, because Eastern Exorcist is kind of like the Shogun-era Chinese mythical version of Ghostbusters…with a small sampling of Soulsborne thrown in for Soulsborne‘s sake. Does that sound like a winning combination to you? Well, it should, but…
Without further ado, let’s do further and review Eastern Exorcist. This review was based on a Steam code provided by the developers. For full transparency, this review was performed on a PC running Intel Core i9-10900 CPU @ 2.80GHz/2.81 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER, with 16GB RAM.
“Soulsborne“, You Say?
Eastern Exorcist is a side-scrolling, slash-’em-up with magic. That’s the short version. The long version is that Eastern Exorcist is a hand-painted [or, at least, looks hand-painted] deluge of Chinese hack-and-slash combat, featuring a noble warrior who…has…the power to…dispel paranormal enemies. It’s an interesting pretence, and, depending on your love of Chinese mythos, you will probably enjoy how they have been handled.
For every swamp-creature or wailing banshee, there’s a counter-measure. Your character has the ability to banish these monsters away from the mortal realm. That is if you can defeat it in combat. At first, you’ll have a normal three-strike combo to utilise, but this will quickly evolve in a flurry of heavy-hitting moves. You’ll even be able to incorporate magic into your onslaught, such as light bullets and shadow clones to name but a couple.
You’re able to dodge or counter enemy attacks, which you’ll need to do for fear of losing your life and some valuable strength. Should you die, you’ll be whisked back to the last shrine you visited, which is also where you’ll be able to upgrade your skills and improve your level. If this is sounding vaguely familiar to you, it should; there’s an obvious influence from FromSoftware to Eastern Exorcist.
“Uhh-Huh, I’m Listening…”
The problem with that is, there’s just something lacking in Eastern Exorcist. Now, I’m not exactly an expert when it comes to the Soulsborne genre, but I have listened to the incessant droll of my peers for long enough to have picked up a thing or two. There’s an element of repetition leading into redemption that the Souls games offer. You meet a boss, it kills you, you try again, rinse, repeat. It isn’t until you crack that boss that it sinks in. All your hard work, your patience pays off.
Eastern Exorcist simply doesn’t have that nuance to it. Yes, there is a difficulty in the combat, and the boss fights are, at best, difficult, but the combat doesn’t have the same oomph as you might expect elsewhere in the genre. Any battle can be bested with your three-strike combo and your deflection technique. Which, in turn, makes it all seem a little, disappointing, if not repetitive to the point of boring.
But it does have a stamina system, that I didn’t really ever find myself needing to pay attention to. And there’s a life bar that you can replenish by…eating hearts? I think that’s what they were. And I think that’s what I did with them. Regardless, you get them from the
campfires shrines you visit.
Oh, Well, What Does it Have?
So, it’s not going to blow Souls-fans away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Eastern Exorcist. Afterall, the visuals alone are gorgeous enough to warrant a little extra time spent in the game world. Yes, there are areas that, at times, just look like copies of the rest of the areas you’ve visited, but there’s a washed-out splendour that each one brings. It all looks like an atypical Chinese painting or mural. I probably mean the one’s we’re used to seeing via Hollywood, but I don’t suspect it strays too far from the path.
You’ll feel like you’re running through a Chinese myth; a noble warrior sent to save the country from invading, dark spirits. Which is possibly Eastern Exorcist‘s best trait. It makes you feel like a shogun warrior, like a demon-slayer sent to liberate the Chinese countryside. The brush-stroke like quality of the artwork also belies the game’s difficulty spikes. But, again, the combat isn’t exactly difficult to overcome if you know what buttons to press and when.
Aside from the art style, Eastern Exorcist also has one other ace up its sleeve; the music. The Chinese instrumentals play on behind you, as you slice and dice your way through each level. The tone quickly changes as you venture into the highest reaches of the mountains. A sense of loneliness and foreboding danger lingers in the air. It is all accentuated by an unnerving calmness to the musical composition. And then, you’ll meet the guardian of the mountains. The music turns hostile as the demon charges at you.
It All Works Perfectly to Create a Dramatic Piece of Entertainment
Eastern Exorcist does feature voice-acting, however, there’s a bit of a problem to it. Unless you are fluent in Chinese (spoiler alert; I’m not), you won’t have a clue what any character is saying. Therefore, you’ll have to trust the captions. There’s a real sense of, “this doesn’t really matter to me” as the characters deliver their dialogues.
By which I mean, there’s a reason why you have to go do this quest and save that villager etcetera, but it isn’t like we (as a player) want to. There’s simply no emotional connection to any of the characters. Even the protagonist comes across as flat. This means you’ll find yourself not caring about why you’re doing things and simply do them to further your own progress. This is a shame because I’m sure there’s a wonderfully gripping tale to be told in Eastern Exorcist if you can force yourself to connect with it.
All in all, Eastern Exorcist wasn’t the worst experience I’ve ever had on my PC. However, there just simply wasn’t enough of a connection in it for me to want to come back to it and complete things in a timely manner. The story was…okay? And the characters were there, but that’s about it. Sure, there were moments in the combat that had me wondering if I were good enough at the start, but then, when things *click*, it doesn’t really go back. You’ll quickly plough through the first few levels without breaking a sweat. The few saving graces to this game are the musical score and the art-style, both of which deserve more credit than this review gave them.
Ultimately, you’ll spend around eight hours or so in the game, give or take. There isn’t anything in it to warrant you spending more time than that, but it does what it does in a space of time that isn’t too taxing. Of course, I couldn’t recommend it to you based on the combat, story, or voice-acting qualities, but you’d at least enjoy the scenery.
Ultimately, Eastern Exorcist wasn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad game. Somebody else might have played it and adored it. However, as the case is, I was the one who played it and I am the one who is reviewing it. As such, I’m afraid I can only really give Eastern Exorcist a 5/10. It’s not the best game I’ve ever played, and I won’t be rushing back home to replay it, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like it.
Eastern Exorcist is available on Steam right now, where it is currently still in Early Access. You can take advantage of a 25% saving before 5th May. Usually, Eastern Exorcist costs £13.49, however, the discount means you’ll only be paying £10.11 for it! A PlayStation 4 release is also scheduled for sometime in the future. No concrete date has been given.
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Eastern Exorcist PC (Steam) Review
- Overall - 5/105/10
+Interesting take on SoulsBorne genre
+Integration of Chinese mythos refreshing
-No real “oomph” to combat
-Story is not gripping
-As an extension of the previous point, characters and their motives don’t do much to pull you in.