Let’s get this out of the way, it’s not a DOOM clone. Back in 1996, Lobotomy Software developed PowerSlave/Exhumed (/Seireki 1999: Pharaoh no Fukkatsu, in Japan) Lobotomy Software started after a few guys had left Nintendo of America, they made a few demos and Exhumed was one of them. A first person shooter with a heavy emphasis on Egyptian lore, often forgotten about, but in 2021 the absolute top team at Nightdive Studios have resurrected this entombed mummy for a brand new audience. Shall we have a look? For today’s review, I shall be naming the game Exhumed due to my EU biased.
1996 was a good year, let’s be honest, for both games in general and especially for FPS titles. We were blessed with titles and franchises we still see a lot of today, Mario (64 & Kart), Crash Bandicoot and Tomb Raider all came out this year. Then for first person shooters we had Duke 3D, Quake and Exhumed.
The case of Exhumed is slightly unusual however, the PS1/Saturn versions are the more favoured version as opposed to the pc, we have more of a metroidvania feel where as levels are a bit smaller but require a replay due to picking up new items giving you more exploration methods. The PC version has a more tradition fps feel to them. The new port focuses on the console version adding in some of the pc version enemies a few gameplay tweaks, a few more mod cons like, resolution changes, a lot of visual customisation and some player control changes.
Gameplay wise, Exhumed plays fairly similar to the usual suspects, initially it plays like a standard fps, but Exhumed has a lot more exploration and revisiting previous areas with new powerups to get back to them unreachable areas, I found myself accidentally revisiting wrong areas quite a bit but I eventually got there. The maps despite being in the same time period and era feel nice and refreshing, the Egyptian theme suits itself perfectly to a first person title, you find yourself fighting through canyons, tombs, mines, and other mythical areas.
Luckily the game is very fast paced, movement is fast and fluid, with your powerups you’ll be floating around the map, swimming in underwater caverns and passing through otherwise unreachable areas. Everything feels smooth and just a bit floaty, you’ll have to perform some prevision platforming at time which the floatiness can feel a bit uneasy but nothing a decent player should be able to cope with. Each map has numerous exits, these can lead you to different maps, and you can access any other level from the hub where you’ll meet Ramses in his tomb.
The gunplay is nice; you start with a couple of standard weapons, a sword, a classic pistol, and an M60, but soon after you’ll be given the power of the gods with a Manacle of Power, Cobra Staff and Ring of Ra, these have different effects but all do deadly damage. I found myself favouring the M60, but in sticky situations you’ll be switching to the more powerful weapons. These don’t have a usual ammo collectable, each uses a single collectable to keep you on top of your ammo use, you’ll have to manage these well as these pick ups are random.
Visually Exhumed sticks the landing, it’s very of the age, Nightdive have given it a slight upgrade, but like Blood: Fresh Supply, and Turok (and pretty much everything Nightdive do), it retains it’s original visuals, but with a bit of a crisper look for modern hardware. As mentioned there’s a lot of customisation options, and as per with 90’s retro shooters you’ve got a nice crt filter to add on there. There wasn’t much required to upgrade here and it still looks great.
Audio is ok, the soundtrack can get a bit repetitive, but the rest of the audio is nice. You even get some early voice acted story in there, which for the time might have been first for a fps of the time. I can’t remember anything apart from Duke Nukem, but Duke was mostly one liners.
As a fan of retro and boomer shooters, it’s been great being able to get my hands on a perfect conversion of Exhumed, Saturn hardware (the perfect version of Exhumed resides here) isn’t cheap and retro prices are on the rise again. The original PC version doesn’t cut it any more with it’s smaller levels and more classical style gameplay. Nightdive hit the right spot once again, a perfect port which is fully accessible to everyone, consoles and pc now.