First Impression: Exo One
Release Date: 17 November, 2021
Platform: Windows, Xbox
By Chris Picone, 17 November 2021
I think this has to be one of the most beautiful games I've ever played; frankly, it's difficult to believe it's an indie game. The gameplay’s very simple, hinging on two core mechanics. First, your craft is like a ball; your only forward propulsion is rolling, leaving you very much at the mercy of the terrain. The second core mechanic, gravity, is where you gain control. There are two main buttons; one to increase gravity, the other to decrease it, allowing you to make the most of the world around you. You can also dive, glide, and jump, but only as your limited power source allows. Ultimately, the gameplay revolves around exploring the beautiful but dangerous worlds you find yourself in as you seek out alien monuments that will launch you to the next world. The terrain is both your greatest hindrance and your greatest boon as you find yourself launching off sand dunes and snow-covered mountains, skimming along the tops of waves, and launching yourself with the aid of geysers and volcanic eruptions. There are also power storms and other dangers which cut power to parts of your craft, limiting some of your capabilities and occasionally making “finding the exit” a mildly challenging affair.
The audio is very complimentary; my memory could be faulty but I got some really strong 2001 Space Odyssey vibes – otherworldly, restful, but with an ever-present hint of impending doom. That also fits the story. I’m not far enough into the game yet to know the full story – and wouldn’t want to spoil it if I did – but the gist is that you’re piloting some alien spacecraft when something went wrong, leaving you jumping from planet to planet taking whatever escape route you can find in a desperate attempt to find your way home again.
The verdict? This is a nice, relaxing exploration game. There’s always a hint of danger but I don’t think anything in the game can actually prevent you from ultimately succeeding so you can really settle in and just enjoy the experience and the scenery.