Exorcise the Demons by Midnight Games EIRL
You ever wake up one night only to find out you’re trapped in a floating hellscape, and a demon’s trying to break through to your world? No? Do you want to?
I Need an Old Priest and a Young Priest…
It’s kind of surprising that despite the success of Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, we haven’t seen more games take on a similar concept. The idea of two or more people having to swap vague information to solve a tense, timed puzzle is a great one, and clearly the folks at Midnight Games EIRL agree.
Exorcise The Demons puts one player in the shoes of a man tasked with performing rituals to banish a demon trying to break into the human world. The trick is, they don’t actually have access to any of the important information needed to solve them.
Instead, another person looks at the “Book of Rituals” (which you can actually download as a PDF and even print if you want to be fancy) and uses the myriad information in there to guide the player through each puzzle, hopefully without either of them making a mistake.
You opened it. We came.
Let’s start this review off by saying I legitimately had fun playing Exorcise The Demons with a few different friends. As I mentioned before, the core conceit of the game is great; there’s an inherent tension to needing to vaguely describe a bizarre, eldritch puzzle to someone while they frantically scan through pages of bizarre text to find the solution that won’t get you killed. There are also lots of laughs to be had as you and your friends struggle to understand each other.
The fun largely comes thanks to the puzzles, which are varied and genuinely interesting. One minute you might be figuring out the demon’s name via a Ouija board, the next you’ll be casting runes to figure out what designs you need to draw on stones, just to name a few.
The game periodically mixes them together into a single level, getting progressively harder as you rush to complete more puzzles in the same amount of time. It really tests both your comprehension and your friendships.
Another point in the game’s favor is the atmosphere, and it absolutely oozes atmosphere. Between the spooky art design and the legitimately great sound that the whole experience is steeped in, it does a fantastic job of drawing you into the experience.
Pain and pleasure, indivisible
Unfortunately, as fun as the game is at its best, a lot of its elements routinely keep it from reaching that point. For starters, coming from a small French developer, the game has clearly had some translation issues. While this doesn’t detract from the game itself too much – at least nowhere near as much as the hilariously weak voice acting – it makes parts of the Book of Rituals a lot harder to understand than they should be.
Not only that, but repetition quickly sets in, as new puzzles are introduced infrequently and there don’t seem to be many different solutions to each of them.
Worst of all, there’s no way to undo part of a ritual when you know you screwed up, meaning that the second you click on the wrong thing, your only options are to either go through the rest knowing you’ll fail or go into the pause menu and restart the level.
Oh, and the game boots you back to the main menu whenever you finish a level, successful or not.
The rewards for completing each level also feel pretty insubstantial. Each one ends with the exact same animation of you battling one of two possible demons (sometimes with a color palette swap) and a grade on your performance that’s never really explained.
The game also mysteriously appears to have some kind of randomized loot system, giving you things like concept art whenever you finish a level. It’s not awful, but it feels out of place.
I Think the Point Is to Make Us Despair
There’s genuine fun to be had with Exorcise The Demons, but it’s often held back by issues that are very hard to ignore. There are worse ways for you and a friend or two to spend an evening, but this ultimately feels like a game whose flaws need to be exorcised themselves before it can be something really special.
Exorcise The Demons is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Exorcise The Demons below: