Nightdive Studios have done a terrific job of porting a number of creaky first person shooters over onto modern consoles in recent years.
The Egyptian set PowerSlave Exhumed (originally known just as Exhumed in Europe, and PowerSlave in North America) is its latest effort, and although no hidden classic still offers up enough unique ideas to make it playable nowadays – as long as you go in with the right mindset.
Because make no mistake, this is a game that takes a while to get going.
Like most first person shooters of the era it throws a lot of low level enemies at you in the early stages. In many games such as Doom or Quake these are relatively simple and fun to dispatch.
Unfortunately the ones here are of the small, leaping creepy crawly variety however – and are a massive pain to get rid of, whether it’s via your gun or sword.
And they keep on coming for a lot of the early stages, which is a shame – as it’ll put off many players from seeing how PowerSlave Exhumed develops into a genuinely interesting FPS.
Because it’s actually more of a Metroidvania in set-up, and this was before such a term was invented. You progress through levels across a map, but there are different routes in most – and you can only get through some by learning new abilities which are gained in later stages.
This makes this a far more interesting game structurally than similar titles of the era such as Doom or Duke Nukem 3D.
Sadly it can’t quite match up to those peers in terms of its combat. Although things do get better after the initial swarm of insect foes, the enemy set still isn’t massively inspiring – and the ammunition system is needlessly simplified to the point where it almost becomes confusing.
Still, gunfights are nowhere near as bland as in many modern first person shooters – with environments consistently varied and interesting.
Exhumed Powerslave is not one of the best first person shooters of the mid-nineties, but has more than enough interesting ideas to be worthy of retrospection. Just make sure you go in with a sufficient amount of patience.