chlomo's Excalibur 2555 AD (PlayStation) review

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  • chlomo has written a total of 8 reviews. The last one was for Outlast 2

Great Soundtrack, Bad Game

It seems that bringing back the times of King Arthur and all that jazz have always been popular but for Excalibur 2555AD it seems like they couldn't decide if they wanted to set it in the time of King Arthur or set it in the time of Captain Kirk. From my extremely basic gist on a story, that doesn't make any sense anyway, you play as Beth; apprentice to Merlin who is sent forward in time by the famous wizard to reclaim the stolen Excalibur, hence the name. The story is much deeper than that but the lore of it means very little and isn't really brought up during the game. All you need to know is that everything is underground, the bad guy is called Delavar and you're from the time of Camelot.

So the basic gameplay see's Beth walking around talking to people and trading things to get other things to solve puzzles, Monkey Island style. Occasionally there will be a fight and you tap a button to enter fight mode and then the awkward combat begins, press buttons to block and slash with the sword until one of you dies. That's really it for the entire game, besides pushing a button the whole game is picking up stuff, trading it and fighting dudes.

The level design is somewhat incoherent geographically and aesthetically, with level 1 looking like a castle dungeon that also has a modern day club in it and then level 2 starts off in some caves that then magically transforms into a gothic crypt, it takes until you get to level 5 to start to see anything that looks like the year the game is set in, you know, 2555AD. Despite being given a map and a compass, some levels, especially level 4, are so messy in design it's like someone tried to make it as confusing as possible. Rooms serve no purpose and connecting corridors have things blocking half of them for no real reason, everything is awkward and oddly shaped or abnormally spacious and empty. This causes havoc with the enemy AI as they seem to get lost whilst trying to find you and awkwardly bump into things. Room transitions are often really shocking like one minute you're standing in a metallic room and the next door leads to a room that looks like the kitchen at KFC. This is what stretches the game out as long as it does, it took me about 5 hours to beat all 13 levels with some stretching on for nearly 40 minutes.

The combat is messy with ranged combat being something you can be afflicted by but not participate in yourself, if an enemy shoots at you, block the shot or get hit by it. Melee opponents differ in attack speed with some of the ones later in the game being unreasonably fast to the point where it seems like the block animation takes too long to process. Luckily everyone is polite enough to stand and wait patiently for you to finish killing your first opponent before they start to attack you. In the game demo it shows a series of special moves like a roundhouse kick that I never figured out how to do, it wasn't in the manual at least.

The game contains some of the most illogical puzzles in any game I've ever played, in the first level you find a glass laying around on a table and then later on you meet a bartender who's out of business because he's run out of glasses. It's a post apocalyptic hellhole of a future, I killed a guy who tried to beat me to death with a hammer earlier in the level... who cares about drinking glasses? All of the puzzle solutions are either really convenient or totally obtuse, you get items that you've got no idea what they are or what they're for and then at the same time you'll start in a locked room and find a single key on the floor that opens the only door.

There are spells in the game that you can utilise to solve puzzles or make combat trivial, spells like the spell of keys do exactly what you think they do, but more obscure ones like the spell of shadows makes you invisible to security cameras which is useful exactly once during the game, later on you learn a fire spell that kills any enemy in one hit and an invincibility spell that makes combat a joke.

The game expects you to beat each level in one go but has random difficulty spikes too with certain levels being brutally difficult to the point where you've got to try it multiple times just to understand what to do, rooms lead off to places you think you want to go, but don't and enemies deal crippling amounts of damage and the health pick ups decrease in number. And then there's level 4 again which has an instant death floor puzzle right at the end of it, where you're supposed to walk through this room, passing over the right tiles on the floor or else you trigger a bomb, die and try the whole level again. But to be able to understand what path you need to take, all three journeys across the room of death are marked on a sign in a room where the camera doesn't naturally pan up so you can see it, but it also doesn't tell you what order to do the routes in. So good luck with that one.

I'm not covering all of the weird and dumb things this game makes you do because I'd have to make this another 3 or 4 paragraphs longer.

The voice acting is terrible with some of it being borderline hilarious, oddly all the voice lines have to be loaded in with a miniature loading screen and it still sounds bad when it's played. The saving grace of this shoddily made disaster is the soundtrack which when exploring plays some enchanting ambient synth pieces, really wonderful mood music that if put to a better game could really work wonders. The combat music isn't too bad either.

It seems that 90% of the effort for this game was put into the soundtrack and the other 10% was put into every other aspect of the game, it's not really worth playing.

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