If Speedrunners and Tron had a love child, it would be called Exception!
- Developer: Traxmaster Software
- Publisher: Traxmaster Software
- Release date: 13th August 2019
- Genre: Platformer
- Platforms: Xbox, Playstation, Switch
- Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Ah, computers… we love them when they work, we hate them when they don’t. We especially hate them when they have a nasty virus wriggling about inside of them. If you ever wanted to know what that looks like in comic book villain form, Exception has got you covered!
Exception starts off looking like a dystopian future, with robots clamouring around a futuristic cityscape. When zooming out it shows that it is inside a laptop owned by a sweet Granny named Alice. Alice isn’t the most technical among us, so when she sees a link offering free software, she immediately clicks on it. Of course, this downloads a lovely virus onto her laptop. This, in turn, destroys the cityscape that we were looking at. The story unfolds as comic book style cutscenes between the playable levels. The artwork is well done, but the story is lacking. With the option of skipping the cutscenes between levels, I found myself doing this more as the game progressed. This had no impact on the ability to play the game.
If Speedrunners and Tron had a love child, then the Exception levels are it. With each level taking around 30 seconds to complete, you can brute force your way through them. During the game, the levels change from simple platforming to dramatic face-offs against giant robots with laser beams! No two levels are the same. The game devs are always adding new challenges to test your platforming skills. One feature that Exception has that other platformers rarely do is the ability to transform its levels. Each level has a button that, when pressed, flips the levels to a new angle. It’s not a simple ninety-degree flip, either. Some levels completely transform, permitting access to previously inaccessible areas.
Gameplay-wise, Exception is your typical straight-forward platformer. With the ability to run, jump and crouch, you can access any platform, and if you so wish, endeavour to complete the levels in record time. You are given a weapon in the form of a blue ‘light sword’ (come on, we all know it’s a lightsaber!) that you can use to destroy enemies in your path. One thing that Exception is missing is the ability to double jump, and I found that there were sections where I was craving this ability. Another thing to note is that the controls feel very floaty, with the animations at times also being quite slippery. When you’re playing a speedrunning platformer you want precision handling, but alas, Exception’s controls had me boiling over in frustration on more than one occasion.
Exception eases you into its difficulty, with the main challenge coming about when the level is transformed. The enemies don’t pose too much of a threat, thanks to the blue ‘light sword’. However, after the first few worlds there is a big bump in difficulty. This is where the floaty controls started frustrating me; the timing of your actions needs to be precise, and the controls weren’t allowing for it. Throughout the game, there are bosses that you need to defeat, however, these aren’t challenging enough to warrant comment.
With each level lasting a mere 30 seconds, there isn’t sufficient time to sit back and look at the level design, and I feel that longer levels wouldn’t have gone amiss in this game. The level transformation could have been used to make a longer level a lot more interesting and to ramp-up the speed-running tactics. With each level having its own speedrunning leaderboard, it really makes you focus on completing the level as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Exception is a pretty good-looking game. The cyber cityscape and characters really feel like they’re in a world of their own. Sometimes I completely forgot that I was playing as a piece of software in a computer. The deep colours and dark undertones create a feeling that there is something menacing forming in the background of every level. The microparticles in the game look great, too, with each destroyed enemy bouncing off into lights around the level. Plus, the effects like fire and electricity look on point, with their particles flickering around the air.
All in all, Exception is a great game to pick up and play. It doesn’t involve a lot of thinking, just quick reflexes and the ability to push the right buttons at the right time. The level transformation allows for some unique platforming styles to flourish. There is, however, plenty of room for improvement. The controls need to be honed somewhat, with the floaty controls being a significant source of frustration. The story itself needs either to be better integrated into the gameplay or to be dispensed with in its entirety. It’s a bit too in the middle for me. Also, some of the levels should be longer, and with each level lasting 30 seconds or so, it focuses too much on the speedrunning to allow for appreciation and enjoyment of the graphics of this platformer.