In the mood for a new platformer but can’t quite find one that stands out? Then you might want to look to Exception, the new combat platformer from developer Traxmaster Software. Exception has action, platforming, plenty of neon lights, a synthwave soundtrack, and a story that teaches you about being careful about what links you click on while on your computer.
The story of Exception follows a woman named Alice who is killing some time on her laptop one day. Alice sees something that many of us have seen many times in our lives, the promise of something free should we just click on a link. We all know that usually when you see something like that it is likely spam and can lead to problems but Alice isn’t quite so enlightened. When she hits that link her laptop becomes full of viruses led by one named Titan. Luckily for her there is one in the bunch not like all of the evil others, an exception if you will. It is up to you to take control of this exception and fight back against Titan and his legion of viruses. The story unfolds in comic book like scenes and while not very memorable, it did enough to keep me going.
Every stage in the game is made up of shapes and what makes it stand out is that the stage will rotate as you play. At certain points in the level you’ll reach an icon that when hit will cause this rotation. The stage can rotate upside down, left, diagonally, and more. It’s pretty cool in the way that you’ll be using floors and platforms in new ways after the level shifts. Not only do you have to always be on your toes with the stage shifting around you but then there are the level hazards and enemies to deal with as well. You can be moving right along and one wrong move into a pit, a laser, or one of many other things can lead to your death. There are no checkpoints in the game so if you die you have to start the level over from the beginning. I didn’t find this to be an issue though as none of the levels are very long so it didn’t take me long to get back to where I had just died. The difficulty felt fine tuned as well with you playing through groups of eight stages at a time. Each one starts off simple and then gets harder as you go.
The game also features boss fights at times and these were pretty intense. I failed several times on several bosses trying to figure out how to conquer them and even when I did figure it out it was still a challenge performing exactly what I needed to do. Part of that comes from the challenge of the fights and part of that comes from the controls which don’t feel as good to me as they could. One of the trickiest things to nail in a platformer is the way the jumping feels. The truly great ones just have something about them that makes them feel great to play but Exception suffers from the floaty jump. It isn’t unplayable by far but it’s floaty enough to make it so you can’t always land your jumps exactly how you would like to. Outside of jumping you also have your slash attacks for taking out enemies. These feel great and you unlock more as you make your way through the game although I found myself not really using many of the new ones. When you complete a level you are given up to four stars depending largely on how fast you completed it. There are also online leaderboards included so that you can see how your times stack up to the rest of the world. They give you a reason to jump back in and go for a better time which is always a welcome feature.
The visual style of the game is well done and makes you feel like you really are in this computer/cyberspace environment. I really liked how the levels start out by kind of morphing onto the screen before your eyes. I also liked how the image would get more pixelated as you took damage and found it to be a nice touch. Not only does the game look good but it sounds great too because Exception features a synthwave soundtrack that was an utter joy to listen to while playing. It fits this neon, tron-like world so perfectly too and is one of my favorite things about this game. The trophy list on PlayStation 4 has 33 trophies including a Platinum but it won’t be easy. You’ll have to get four stars on every stage, get 100% in the game, and do many other various feats. It’s a nice varied list to work towards while you play if you care about such things.
Despite a story that wasn’t very interesting and the jumping feeling a little floaty I would recommend Exception to fans of platformers. The level rotation mechanic makes this more unique than some other platformers and levels are short and sweet making this perfect for those who enjoy speedrunning. All of that is wrapped in a great visual and audio package that further make this game stand out.
*Exception is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.