PowerSlave Exhumed Review
Developer: Nightdive Studios
Publisher: Nightdive Studios
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC, PlayStation and Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 10/02/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
Travelling Back to Egypt
PowerSlave Exhumed is a remake of PowerSlave, a first-person shooter that takes place in ancient Egypt. PowerSlave was originally developed in 1996 for the PlayStation and SEGA Saturn. This title takes the best elements of both original versions and updates them to meet modern standards. Does this relic belong in a museum? Or will it fade into obscurity? Find out in this Rapid Review.
To begin my adventure, I found out about an alien species that has taken over the world, and that they confiscated the body of King Ramses. The aliens were slowly draining his remaining magical energy to harness it for evil. I was the only one who could stop them. This basic premise worked and though the story was not special to me, I thought it worked well to establish the plot and begin my journey.
Though the story itself served as an excellent springboard to begin my adventure, I often found myself getting lost. After completing a level, I would get a vague indication of where to go instead of explicit directions. By looking at the context clues in the map itself, I could decipher the next location, but I was rarely confident that I would find the right location. Occasionally, I felt as though I did not get enough information. Sometimes I would waste time in a level with no new progression because I mistakenly thought that I could explore a new area. I would have liked to get clues or more specific hints from King Ramses, but the lack of guidance did not seriously impede my experience.
Exploring Inside the Levels
Once actually inside the levels, PowerSlave Exhumed was a lot of fun. I explored various areas, collected runes, and defeated enemies. The progression was very similar to DUSK in the best ways possible. I ran through various stages searching for the pathway to the next level. The levels were distinct and had their own identities too. At the same time, each level included areas that were only accessible after gaining certain powerups. PowerSlave Exhumed is a Metriodvania, meaning certain collectables will unlock new content in previously explored areas. This made the game very interesting, as there were various areas that were inaccessible on my first run-through of a level.
The Metriodvania progression style of this title made the game stand out from other first-person shooters. I gained new abilities such as the ability to levitate, a higher jump height, and invulnerability to lava. These made the game more interesting and forced me to think about areas where I could leverage my newfound abilities in previously completed levels. I enjoyed their inclusion.
Still, there were some drawbacks to combining the genre. Occasionally I encountered obstacles or long jumps that seemed insurmountable given my current abilities. Considering I had been in the same position previously, I assumed that I needed to find a new ability or interact with the level to reach the other side of a location. This was not always the case, and sometimes I was able to reach the other side with precise movements. The Metriodvania elements differentiate the title, but also made progress confusing.
Learning To Live
My confusion did not simply reside with the progression. Once I began the title, I did not get a tutorial. I learned all mechanics by myself. The mechanics are not overly complicated, but I was surprised that simple things were not explained. I was also surprised to find the jump button was bound to the left trigger button. It was not problematic, but it took me a while to recognize that there was a jump button at all.
I was also surprised that the developers did not include a crosshair. Though this seemed problematic initially, I never had major issues targeting my enemies. Moreover, I was disappointed by the map. Considering how vital it is to collect various things and explore each area of a level, I wanted the map to be very detailed. Instead, it was a collection of lines on the screen that hardly gave me any valuable information.
Despite my confusion with exploration and my character’s options, I immediately became familiar with the combat. I learned to master my own movement and leverage the various weapons I collected along the way. I had fun using the weapons even though there was no crosshair. PowerSlave Exhumed features traditional weapons such as a pistol and a machine gun but truly shines by including more interesting ones such as a snake-charming wand and the ability to summon lightning.
The weapons were distinct and memorable without being challenging to learn. Another thing I liked about the weapon system was how ammunition worked. Ammunition was distributed through orbs found throughout each level. These orbs provided ammunition to any weapon I wanted to restore ammunition to. I thought this decision worked well, as I never had an abundance of ammunition for weapons that I did not like.
PowerSlave Exhumed also features a wide cast of entertaining and visually expressive enemies to slaughter. I fought spiders, otherworldly creatures and even teleporting anthropomorphic cheetahs. Overall, enemies were distinct and entertaining. Though new enemies were implemented regularly, many of the more basic enemies were recycled too frequently for my taste. Constantly fighting the same enemies made each new level less unique. Still, the enemies were ferocious. The developers did an excellent job ensuring the difficulty scaled with my experience.
While old enemies were sometimes overdone, each new enemy seemed perfectly calibrated for my current skill level. Sparingly, I got to fight a boss enemy which had a lot of health and dealt incredible damage. These were some of the most fun fights but were incredibly infrequent. Though I wanted to see more boss fights and tough enemies, I was constantly fighting interesting opponents that pushed me to master the mechanics.
While most enemies were not overwhelmingly difficult during my playthrough, there are additional difficulty modes that can be used to tailor the game. Though this may not provide the same satisfaction as additional individual boss fights, these provide extra value to the game, as it is more rewarding to revisit the title.
Unfortunately, despite the many great elements of PowerSlave Exhumed, there were some minor glitches. Some checkpoints did not save everything properly, meaning I would have to recomplete certain things that I had done already. Moreover, sometimes dying in a level would break it, meaning I needed to either restart from a checkpoint or restart entirely. Plus, there were some minor performance issues when a lot of particles were on the screen. Still, these minor issues only marginally detract from an overall excellent experience.
Sound the Alarm
The game also looked very aesthetically pleasing. Though it is an older title, the refurbished visuals look excellent, and the updated widescreen works perfectly. Many of the earlier levels did look very similar, but the level themes got more intricate as the game progressed. Also, the default brightness level was very low, but the developers included options to calibrate it which made the colours pop out on my screen. The visuals worked.
The sound effects were also good. The guns were satisfying to shoot, the enemies announced themselves, and throughout the levels, I listened to atmospheric music. It was not a major draw to the title, but it sounds professional. The theming was done well.
Overall, PowerSlave Exhumed was a lot of fun. Sure, sometimes it was hard to navigate, but I enjoyed the various weapons, found fulfilment with the difficulty settings, and liked exploring the world. PowerSlave Exhumed is an excellent title to pick up.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase PowerSlave Exhumed from the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.