Eastern Exorcist – Review
Follow Genre: 2-DAction RPG
Developer: Wildfire Game (无锡野火数字科技有限公司)
Publisher: Bilibili
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Eastern Exorcist – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Fast paced fights and phenomenal Art and Sound
Bad: A few balancing issues, but less than expected from Early Access
User Score
9.5
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.5/10 (4 votes cast)

Eastern Exorcist is a 2D side-scrolling action RPG with, as the title suggests, strong Eastern themes. Developed by Wildfire Game(无锡野火数字科技有限公司)and published by Bilibili, who make the claim of being the “most popular video-sharing website and community themed around animation, comic, and game (ACG) based in China”, this is a bold and beautiful game that stands out among many others produced by small companies and niche genres. While this is another Souls-like side scroller to hit the market, this one is worth the investment of any fan of the genre, even in Early Access…

Story

The player fills the role of Lu Yunchuan, the oldest of four brothers from a school of exorcism that specializes in the use of swords. During the tutorial, we are taken across a treacherous snow-clad mountainside, on the hunt for the Demon King Mandrill. By the end of this, however, we return to the School of Exorcism’s Master with our youngest brother gravely injured and the other two killed. The actions that are believed to have led to this are blamed on Lu Yunchuan, and he is expelled from the school to return to his hometown in shame.

Despite this opening, our protagonist is highly skilled and has a strong sense of justice and honor, so it is a very short time before he is back to doing what he does best: Cutting through hordes of demons like a Jack Russell in a room full of balloons.

The most obvious comparisons to the story of this souls-like are others of the same genre, Nioh and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This is by no means a criticism, as while it is similar, it is very much its own story and takes from Chinese mythology as opposed to Japanese. This game offers a much more linear and clear cut story as well, as even though it contains a few twists in its dark and sorrowful tale, it plays like many other 2D open-world adventures and lets the player get down to the basics of completing quests and experiencing what the gameplay has to offer without being too bogged down in lore and cutscenes.

Graphics

Possibly the single greatest reason among a list of very good reasons to get Eastern Exorcist: the graphics are phenomenal. Going wholeheartedly into the Eastern theme, Wildfire Game has employed a hand-drawn Chinese painting art style. This creates an amazing effect of being able to distract the player with static backgrounds and gentle particle physics only moments after filling the screen with combat effects and sword strikes. The player himself is a 2D segmented build with 3D accents around his billowing scarf, to provide a level of depth that really adds to the quality of the visuals.

With environments across rural Chinese settings, from a snowy mountain to a barren waste, and the cutscenes portrayed in the style of Chinese Opera (and possibly Guild Wars), it’s easy to imagine that this is where most of the last three years of development went.

Sound

Much like the graphics, the sounds are fully committed to the Eastern style. While not unexpected for an Asian company, the impressiveness lies with the traditional elements. The sounds are thematic and appropriate to the setting, at no point does there seems to be any music that is synthesized or produced by an instrument you wouldn’t find in 15th-century china. Overall, for a game that initially looks to be a standard playthrough, Wildfire has taken every opportunity to engage and draw us in.

On top of this, the voice-overs are clear, if not available in English, and the sound effects of swords and spells are resounding and satisfying. The subtitles are very well translated, even if the results are maybe not as moving as the original tongue at times. Not to mention the ghoulish noises from many enemies are perfectly horrific.

Gameplay

The gameplay of Eastern Exorcist stands out as heavily inspired by the Souls series. With a heavy emphasis on stamina management for dodges and attacks, limited magical exorcism abilities to aid you, and careful use of healing potions that refresh at certain points, many mechanics are taken.

However, many games have taken these mechanics, but few have done it particularly well. With many missions being straightforward kill and/or collect objectives, the game is able to commit to developing these to an incredible standard that many have failed to achieve. Each fight is sought out to test your growing strengths and abilities, practice your timing, strike faster and hit more. With few distractions to the player in terms of inventory management or complex skill point distribution, it can be fun and easy to find the way you want to fight and develop.

There are moments when you can see that this game is still in Early Access. Odd decisions have been made and some balancing issues need to be fixed. In particular, the control layout has block and parry on two separate buttons, while most games would incorporate them on one and make the difference a matter of timing. The stamina regeneration really suffers at points in the game, making defensive or offensive options inaccessible, which makes the 2D element of the game suddenly very apparent, as it limits your escape options. However, while mildly irksome at times, these do not detract from the enjoyment of the game.

Conclusion

Eastern Exorcist is a stunning tribute to the Souls-like genre, delivering a 2D design and system that works in a way that so many have struggled to do. And despite some minor issues with balancing, what is delivered in this Early Access is fun, engaging, and downright beautiful from start to finish. This is a game that saw us going through to the end, and we think it could do the same for you.

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Rating: 9.5/10 (4 votes cast)
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Eastern Exorcist - Review, 9.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Jayderlee
Jayderlee


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