Exorcise the Demons is a Kickstarter-backed co-op horror puzzle game developed and produced by Midnight Games EIRL that was released on Steam on September 18, 2019. If you’re scratching your head at the name, I was too. Midnight Games EIRL is an independent company from Paris, France, that has released only one other game which you can also find on Steam: Running Gods. The two games from the studio, however, couldn’t be any more different. Running Gods is a platformer with cartoonishly stylized graphics, and Exorcise the Demons is a first-person horror/thriller game that tasks you with completing rituals to exorcise demons. If that sounds like a game that might be up your alley, then keep on reading. This is our review of Exorcise the Demons.
Starting out, the game appears to have two modes: training, and story. If you choose story-mode, you will be dropped into an intimidating hellscape with a woman the game only refers to as “L” to guide your path. You don’t know who she is, and neither does the character you’re playing: John. All you know is that the mysterious woman, L, insists that this isn’t a dream and that the decisions you make here on this eldritch plane are permanent. Maybe it was the voice acting, but there is a strange disconnect between you and the character you’re playing. I didn’t feel any real attachment to John or his plight and even felt myself becoming frustrated by his dialogue and reactions to what was going on around him.
The game has some pretty impressive graphics. Upon entering the game, a beautifully immersive cinematic gives you a tour of the esoteric realm that you’ve woken up in, complete with stunning altars that host a variety of puzzles or “rituals” you’ll need to solve in order to progress and successfully exorcise the demon.
As I mentioned before, the voice acting could definitely use some work. The actors don’t seem enthusiastic at all, and the writing felt kind of stiff. While I wasn’t expecting much hand-holding, the Exorcise the Demons really does just throw you into the depths of hell and let you sink or swim. Though there’s L’s voice, she doesn’t provide much in the way of help when it comes to playing the game. She instead gives subtle nudges towards where you need to go, and when you get there you are left to flounder around to figure out if you need to find keybindings or just utilize your mouse to click and drag around the altar.
Playing With a Friend
All of these rituals are going to rely on your communication skills with your partner. One person holds the Book of Rituals (PDF supplied to the game holder in many available languages), and the other navigates the actual game and executes the rituals. Again, your choices are permanent, and as you struggle to communicate the altar layout to your partner, the rotating runes above the central altar start to vanish to signify your time running out.
From looking at the Kickstarter page, I was under the impression that you would be able to pull up the Book of Rituals while inside of the game in a “solo” mode, but that wasn’t an option. So, unfortunately, I was limited to having to tab out constantly to quickly search through the Book of Rituals and find answers to the puzzle. I sadly do not have printing capabilities, so this proved to be extremely tedious after a while.
Realities of Online Co-Op Play
When playing the story mode with an online friend, we both jumped into Discord for easier communication. While the concept of playing with a friend is extremely fun and interesting, the process just wasn’t quite as fun for us. I am the only one out of the two of us with a copy of the game, so I get to dive into the game and experience all of the impressive graphics. Meanwhile, the friend is rushing through the book frantically to try and find the answer to the puzzles (some of which are actually pretty frustrating) while I get to kick back and enjoy all of his hard work.
Lamentations of My Lack of Local Co-Op
In a local co-op setting, you’re able to swap in and out of who is controlling the game and can equally share in the fun. But through an online experience, only one person is doing all of the hard work and it can quickly become boring and borderline frustrating between the party. So even though it is possible to have an online experience with the game, it’s just not as fun as it could be. Though you could technically share your Steam gaming library with a friend, I personally don’t feel comfortable giving my credentials out to anyone. And neither should you, don’t do it, don’t compromise your account’s security!
So while the game itself seems interesting, the story, voice-acting, and online experience just weren’t enough to bring it home for me. A huge factor in how I look at games is their fun factor, and unfortunately, Exorcise the Demons just wasn’t that fun for us. Each level felt more like a chore, and after a while, I felt bad for my co-op partner having to do all of the heavy lifting when it came to the rituals. Eventually, I caved and streamed my gameplay so that he could at least go through the visual experience with me.
Note: A code was provided by PR for the purpose of review.