30/05/2017

☆ Preview: EXO ONE - *Keep on rolling, baby* ☆

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Preview - Exo One - PC (Kickstarter)

I was lucky enough to recently play a preview build of EXO One, from the developer's website:
"EXO ONE is a momentum-based exoplanetary exploration game in which you pilot an alien craft able to manipulate the laws of gravity. Follow the story of mankind's first, ill-fated mission outside the solar system."

At the moment, the game is in the Alpha stages and so only the first two sections of the game are playable.

As mentioned above, the key word here is 'exploration', EXO One does not have any challenge or enemies whatsoever. The gameplay consists of moving your spherical craft over the alien landscapes to various monoliths in the far distance.


When I first played EO I felt the same as I did when playing Dear Esther by which I mean I spent a few minutes wondering....'is this it?' But this is obviously an unfair comment on the genre and so when one adjusts their thinking to understand the premise is not one of a challenge but rather one of experiencing the game world, it becomes far more enjoyable.


There are several different actions that your craft can complete. You can jump, glide and control the gravity of the sphere. On a practical level, none of these makes any difference beyond variation in your preferred style of travel but it does allow you to make your own way across the plains and hills of the planets. I was struck by the sense of speed and scale on offer, I would see the monolith on the horizon and several minutes would pass before it's true majesty reared above my insignificant spacecraft. I wasn't sure if the landscapes are procedurally generated or if there are any limitations to the open world, if there were, I didn't discover them.


The graphics in the game are perfectly designed. As your craft rolls over the ground at breakneck speed, you pass through various phenomena, thick fogs, lightning storms and blue deserts whip by as you make your way to the next monolith.
The game has a grainy feel to it and rich use of metallic colours fill out the visual palette. This is accompanied by keening ambient music which lulls in and out at certain points.


There is also a narrative which refers to your journey in the past tense, occasionally giving you tidbits of information in regards to your ill-fated pilot.
I was hungover when I played Exo One, I'm quite glad I was as the momentum of my craft combined with the eerie music and sparse narrative was hypnotic and relaxing.

I found the journey over the alien lands soothing and perfectly suited to my mood. I felt there was a comparison in the vibe of EO to Jeff Bridges' Sleeping Tapes, what linked them for me is the sense of peace and tranquillity with an underlying weltschmerz, similar to a stoned Race The Sun with existential ennui.


Summary:
Although the time I had with EXO One was brief due to its current level of completion. I did get lost in its style. Such simple gameplay works well here, it's an 'interactive relaxation tape' a kind of which I haven't had the pleasure of playing before, I look forward to the final version.

Kickstarter Link: EXO ONE by Exbleative

Dev Link: exbleative












Reviewed By Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)