Exception Review (PC)
Coming from a software development background, I was excited about the prospect of a game based on a character fighting off viruses and becoming the hero of the system. With a name like Exception, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Exception is a side scrolling platformer developed by Traxmaster Software. Its looks draw inspiration from Tron and its music inspired by the era as well. With Neon highlights, and synth music from the loading screen, you know this game will be playing to your nostalgia.
As a platformer, Exception holds up well against its competitors. The combat has you using a sword to vanquish enemies. There are wall climb/jump mechanics. And abilities like charged attacks and throwing attacks. You can make up your own combinations. With only 2 heath bars, each fight could be your last as the slightest contact with an enemy takes one away. Losing a life also changes the vision of your character, with things looking increasingly pixelated the lower you go. This adds an extra degree of difficulty to the already tense situations you are up against.
Exception emphasises that it is a mad dash speed runner. The aim is to finish as fast as possible, with there being a high score table of who finished quickest. Throughout my playthrough, I usually finished top 10, with a few top 5’s, and I even got a 2nd. You get a real sense of satisfaction from this table, especially if you consistently place high. However, I am convinced the player who finished first was an actual program, or it was manually entered into the table.
When you finish a level, you are also given a star rating, depending on how much damage you have received. 3 stars for full health, 2 for a little damage, and 1 if you are running in safe mode. Progressing through the game you are also given new techniques and abilities to make the game a bit easier, and also to mix up the combat.
Exception falls short of what I believe it should have been, an outright speed runner. The series of comics you are shown to give the story break you out of the flow of the speed run. It feels disjointed. As if there was a civil war within the design team as to what direction the game should go. With both sides winning and the players losing. You get the sense that the story was shoehorned in, then they second guessed the decision, as you are able to skip them.
Exception has high replayability, due to the high scores table, and genuinely fun and engaging level design. However, it is a frustration that it fails to keep the player engaged through the story. It is unmotivated, and draws many parallels to the “heroism thrust upon the protagonist” stories we’ve heard countless times before. Exception is a platformer you will enjoy, just skip the story.