- Developer: Traxmaster Software
- Publisher: Traxmaster Software
- Release Date: 13/08/2019
- Price: $14.99/ £10.99
- Review code provided by Traxmaster Software
An Error Has Occured
There is something childlike in making fanciful tales of mundane tasks. Imagining an antivirus software as a masked crusader, taking down the infected bits one by one, sounds like it came straight from the mind of a child, and that isn’t a slight. Sometimes the best ideas seem like they can be seen through the eyes of a child. Traxmaster Software has tapped into their inner child to bring us an interesting take on the action platformer genre. Does it successfully reboot the system, or is it doomed to system failure? Press return to continue…
Exception places you in control of a computer node whose whole world has crumbled thanks to a nefarious virus that has infested itself thanks to the carelessness of the end user. This node soon discovers that a mysterious figure, Titan, has begun to change the system, rounding up anyone who differs from his line of thought and making them disappear. You find help in unlikely allies and soon seek out to right the wrongs and save the system. What follows is a surprising dark tale that I was not expecting, but greatly appreciated.
Gameplay in Exception is fast and frantic. Movement is a bit loose, but it allows for an increased freedom of control, and once you get used to it, making daring wall jumps while slicing up enemies becomes a cinch. What truly separates Exception from the rest of the competition is the fact that the levels are constantly changing and morphing. There will be green and blue objects that must be activated to progress through the level, and once they are, everything changes. Sometimes the stage will invert or maybe it will rearrange completely. It all happens so fast and it never feels like it breaks the flow of the game.
At its core, Exception was engineered for speed running. When completing one of the game’s 128 levels, you are awarded stars based on your time. Four stars being the highest honor, all the way down to a single star just for reaching the end. There are bonuses you can achieve in the levels to remove time from your score, such as destroying two enemies midair with the same attack. Racking up stars also ties into the games progression system, unlocking new abilities that can be further upgraded by finding bytes (blue disks) littered in every stage. Depending on your playstyle, Exception can be completed in 2-3 hours, but reaching 100% will take much longer.
The art style of Exception is extremely bright and almost alien like. This allows the user to accept they are in a computer, a digital world and I just love it. Levels are sewn together with sharp corners and everything feels like it could reside in a computer. My only issue is that some of the enemy animations are not the most fluid, especially in comparison to the protagonist. The story is presented in small comic stills every few levels. Here you can see character designs in greater detail and again, I really enjoy the look and feel of the color pallet that was used. One aspect that was a big surprise was how the game portrays health. If you are on the verge of death, the screen becomes extremely granulated and pixeled.
While rummaging through the depths of the computer system, your adventure is fueled by many different pumping synthwave tracks. I personally adore this genre of music and it adds to the level of being in a non-human environment. Eight synthwave artists were tapped to collaborate on this and I feel it is just perfect and I am eagerly awaiting an OST release.
Hard Disk Failure is Imminent
During my journey through Exceptions 128 levels, I experienced a few game breaking glitches. There was always a way around it, but it usually required me to change how I went about playing the level. One instance in particular caused the game to crash every time I attacked a boss with my standard attack. I realized that the sword throw attack wouldn’t crash the game, so I changed my gameplay style to move forward. Another level crashed after a particularly challenging platform section. As soon as I landed, the game would end, so I found a way to land further past that spot and it allowed me to continue. I am happy I was able to finish it, but I hope that Traxmaster Software can address these issues in the future.
By the end of my two-and-a-half-hour journey with Exception, I found myself wanting more. The subhuman feel to the levels with their intense shifts and robotic coldness kept pulling me back in. There are still plenty of levels to get a four star in, and many bytes left uncovered, so I will keep coming back until I have 100% across the board.
- Insane Level Designs
- Easy to Pick up, Hard to Master
- Banging Synthwave Soundtrack
- Odd Enemy Animations
- Game Breaking Glitches
Exception is a great new addition to the extreme action platform genre and only a few bugs keep it from shining at the top of the list.