Exorcist offers gameplay to make your head spin

Posted: July 19, 2009 in Puzzle

I spent part of my weekend watching what I consider one of the best horror flicks in “Exorcist” which also turned out to also be the ideal time to review the game by the same name. While Exorcist the game won’t scare the bejeezus out of you, it does offer a unique and rather innovative puzzler involving quick thinking and addictive gameplay. This would definitely qualify as a hidden gem in my book because it’s the type of puzzler you don’t see every day.

Exorcist is a game of four’s—four ingredients, four quadrants, and four buckets. The game’s premise is built on creating spells using four key ingredients: snake, eye, bat spider. The ingredients randomly appear in one of four buckets, and to create a spell, each of these ingredients must be placed in one of four quadrants. It sounds simple until you realize that the four ingredients come in 3 different colors (ok, no more four’s)—green, blue and yellow—and no ingredient can be duplicated within a single quadrant.

First off, I have to commend the devs on the new tutorial included in the update. It’s among the best tutorials I’ve seen with accompanying voiceover to walk through the rules and nuances of Exorcist. If you don’t understand the rules of the game after going through the tutorial, you may really need an exorcist to unscrew your head.

Of course, just because you know the rules doesn’t make the game any easier. The controls in Exorcist are rather unique combining tilt and touch motions at the same time. It’s similar to tapping your head while rubbing your tummy simultaneously…it’s not natural at first, but gets easier over time only if you stay focused.

The game screen consists of a dual-ring circle. The inner ring is divided into four quadrants where ingredients are to be placed. The outer ring consists of four buckets in the shape of rectangles where ingredients appear. In the center of the ring is the magic wand. In each of the four corners of the game screen is a box which when tapped highlights a specific quadrant in which to place an ingredient.

The control scheme is what stands out in Exorcist. As ingredients appear, tap on one of the corner boxes relative to the quadrant where the ingredient is to be placed. To move an ingredient to a quadrant, tilt the device in the direction where the ingredient is located to place into that quadrant. Visually, the wand will point in the relevant direction, but I actually find this to be more of a distraction than a help so you may not want to focus too much on it.

If ingredients aren’t placed fast enough, you lose a life which obviously is not good in the world of exorcism. Create spells fast enough and you actually gain lives. I know it sounds complicated, but it really is a well designed set of controls that work extremely well.

Depending on how spells are completed, you also fill up and tap to use the Mana Jar which provides one of three power ups. Yellow Mana temporarily slows down the game; Blue Mana wipes the quadrants clean; and Green Mana turns all the ingredients in the buckets into skulls which are similar to wild cards that can be used to complete spells.

Being an exorcist is a tough gig, and the game is no different. There is a slight learning curve, but once you practice, the game delivers a nice adrenaline rush as you act and react. The difficulty level and speed ratchets up pretty quickly, and the devs may want to tweak this a bit, although there is a training level at a reduced speed for those a little wet behind the ears. And some of the visual cues are a little muted especially for a fast-paced game such as this. While the outer ring will blink in red when losing a life, ingredients appear without much notice, and highlighting this may make sense. In addition, a sensitivity setting may be useful even though tilt controls are more or less accurate.

I will go back to my previous statement: Exorcist is the type of puzzle you don’t see every day. The unique and polished gameplay is addicting once you get into it as you go back for more punishment, and frankly the visual design with epic music together convey the right kind of mood. If you’re looking for something truly unusual that will test a different part of your brain, Exorcist is what you’ll want…and without all the head turning.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (definitely a different style of gameplay that should appeal to puzzlers and those who are gluttons for punishment; slight learning curve on the controls, but addicting nonetheless)

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