Draw your blades and face your demons as Lu Yunchuan, an experienced Exorcist and demon-slayer, but is this cutting edge or just a dull point?
- Developer: Wildfire
- Publisher: BiliBili
- Release Date: 14th August 2019
- Genre: Casual, Side Scrolling, RPG
- Platforms: Playstation 4, Windows PC (Steam)
- Reviewed on: Windows PC
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
In Eastern Exorcist, China is plagued with demons and ghouls, its only hope lies with exorcists like our main character, Lu Yunchuan. After witnessing two of his brothers slaughtered at the hands of a king ghoul, he sets off on a path to redemption and revenge. Throughout his adventures not only will you find other humans needing assistance, but other spirits that are more than what they seem.
The game starts off quite slow, with a few small ghouls and demons to slay here and there. Mainly foot soldiers being used as exorcist fodder. Eventually, you will come across your first boss, a large ape wielding what appears to be a cauldron. This is an easy enough entry-level fight to teach you the main mechanics of the game, but nothing too taxing. The developers clearly based this game around China and her mythology, but with some artistic liberty.
The game isn’t all swinging swords and vanquishing evil, though. As Lu tries to atone for his mistakes, his story also leads him onto some cute side quests which allow for the story to become a little more fleshed out than it would have been without them, helping each village he comes across and answering hard questions.
Eventually after slashing your way through enough ghoulish rats and zombie looking creatures, you’ll come to the third boss. This is where the game turns from a fun little hack and slash into a real story-driven game. You feel less like you’re slashing your way through enemies and more like you’re freeing trapped souls into the calmer afterlife.
It’s no good having a detailed storyline if the gameplay doesn’t live up to expectations. Luckily, Eastern Exorcist has a fun and not too difficult play style that will adapt to every player. Lu is a skilled swordsman with many hidden talents up his sleeve. With the ability to attack, charge attack, special attack, dodge, block and jump, it gives you a range of combat moves to suit even the most experienced veteran hack and slash player. With the ability to parry enemy attacks, the combat in this game is fast paced and well put together.
You must deal with enemies quickly in this game. If you don’t “dispel” a fallen demon or ghoul in time it will respawn into a tougher version of itself and more than likely Lu will die. This game isn’t unfair in its enemy types, but it’s a game that makes you pay closer attention to the enemies that you’re fighting and learn their attack styles.
However, mistime a parry or a dodge and the game is unforgiving in letting you know that you messed up. This game challenges you to be specific with your timings and if you get it wrong then Lu will meet the smashy end of an angry ape or the pointy end of a demon’s teeth, forcing you to die and respawn at your latest save point. Don’t be disheartened, though! The levelling system allows you to keep your “aura”, which in turn allows you to level up and boost Lu to better your chances at winning. Alongside levelling you’re also given the ability of “Exorcism Arts”, which give you access to an array of spells and buffs which will help you in your quests.
During your travels, you will come across “Shrines”, and they’re not just a save point or levelling up mechanic. Using these Shrines to fast travel across the world map saves a ton of time between quests, allowing players who prefer a faster pace a chance to make their way through the story without having to deal with the arduous back and forth. However, if you prefer a slower pace, the shrines also provide you with the opportunity to try challenges. These are time trials against bosses that you’ve already defeated, but they’re buffed so they’re much harder. However, if you do beat them, there’s a decent reward in it for you.
Visually the game has a definite charm to it. I wouldn’t say it’s the most beautiful 2D RPG I’ve played, but it has an edge to most of the games I’ve played. Its artistically hand drawn environments give the game a great aesthetic, but I felt myself too focused on the gameplay to really give the background and environment the attention I feel it deserves. The cutscenes are well done, with great shading and non-animated stills to really solidify the action that goes on between scenes, however, overall the visuals didn’t wow me.
With sound design, this game falls a bit flat on my English hearing ears. I’m not as well versed in Chinese as this game wants me to be, with all dialogue being spoken in Mandarin. Luckily, the game translates the audio into English subtitles, but with broken grammar in some parts, it doesn’t convey the gravitas I feel it would have if I spoke the language.
The gameplay of Eastern Exorcist is its saving grace, and it’s a game I can see myself getting lost in for a few hours, at least until Lu dies one too many times and I become frustrated. The storyline is great for a 2D RPG, but I feel that the audio and translation could do with a bit of tweaking to truly make this game immersive.