Okay, perhaps comparing this to Mordhau is a bit of a stretch. However, Exanima is such a unique game that I can’t find a better comparison than that. Bear with me while I explain exactly why this game is so difficult to place into a category. One thing I can guarantee is that Exanima is extremely rewarding if you take the time to get used to its systems.
Exanima is an isometric RPG in the vein of classics that came out in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Its story mode starts off with you waking up in an underground dungeon with a single torch beside you and darkness all around. From there, you need to navigate your way through the darkness, figuring out how things work on your own. Right off the bat, you’ll need to look through the in-game manual to get a grasp of the controls. To make best use of them, however, you’ll need to understand that everything in the game is physics-based. All the items inside the game are fully 3D and interact with one another accordingly. This means you have to pull or push doors to open them, manually pull objects out of your way if they are blocking the path, and if you’re not careful while walking, your character could trip on objects strewn across the floor and fall over.
Where the physics of the engine really shines, however, is in combat. Combat isn’t just frantically clicking on enemies until they’re dead. Damage is based on the momentum and impact zone of your hits, so you need to make sure your character’s combat matches how combat works in the real world. If you take a huge swing with a sledgehammer, your opponent could walk closer towards you. This would mean that instead of the hammer end hitting them, they would only be struck with the handle and suffer no damage. This results in all fights being tactical, with you and your opponents weaving in and out of each other’s range, trying to find an opening between your parries and feints to land a killing blow.
The nostalgia for classic RPGs doesn’t mean the graphics have suffered. Quite the contrary, since Exanima’s art style is incredible. The dungeons are ominous, and the darkness is forebodingly dark. This also allows for some incredible shadows, as every physical object casts different shadows which realistically grow larger and smaller as light sources change position. Even when you drop your torch, you’ll see the uneven cobblestones casting tiny shadows along the ground.
The plot, while unfinished, is still quite interesting. It is revealed to you slowly and organically through notes, letters and books, augmenting the environmental storytelling all around you. In particular, the second area has a series of treatment rooms with medical equipment and then coffins, as little notes fill you in on how the world came to be filled with the walking corpses all around you. I was on edge all throughout that area, and little moments like this stick with you throughout its story mode.
Exanima was released in early-access in 2015, but is still being worked on by the developers, with the latest update coming out on July 14, 2019. However, even with the current features it is well worth the price tag of USD 6.99 on Steam. If you want an RPG experience a little different from the Skyrims and Assassins’s Creeds, I’d highly recommend checking Exanima out.
Wasique Hasan came back to Bangladesh to eat mangoes and get heat-stroke, and he hasn’t found any mangoes yet. Send him information that will lead to the acquisition of mangoes at fb.com/hasique.wasan