As soon as you fire it up, Exception asks you if you want to watch the story cutscene, or just get right into the action. Action please! There’s nothing I like less than a long cutscene or introductory sequence where it builds up to seeing what the game actually plays like. None of that nonsense here. Turn it on. Start the fun.
Exception is a platform game, consisting of a number of short levels. You can smash things and jump to avoid things, hitting green symbols. These green symbols act as transformers for the level, which rotate it, flip it, spin it – and any combination of them – while you’re inside. This means that seeing the exit node is never that simple unless you can get to it, so rotating the level gives a cool gameplay element as you progress.
It’s best seen once you get to a series of moving platforms which as they stand, are impassable. However, once the level is rotated they are very manageable allowing you to move forward. The levels are designed around quick play, and as such the manipulation is more of a linear path towards reaching the end as opposed to a puzzling requirement to work out the order in which to flip the level to win.
After sampling the idea, I went back and watched the cutscenes. The game takes place within a laptop, where ‘Alice’ clicks a link for some super free software. Despite repeated warnings not to click the link, she does and malware is downloaded into her machine. Your role is to fight this malware. Or something. It’s a bit unclear, the story is basically nonsense but it’s a simple little plot (and as mentioned, the game lets you skip it right from the off).
Running, jumping and slashing are the main things you can do here and you’ll quickly experience everything. Some upgrades such as a down thrust jump will help you shave some time off the levels – and this is designed clearly for repeat play, with a star system awarding your progress against set times.
Visually the level are a treat. Neon colours and sparking effects denote the play space, with fire and electricity popping out. However the character looks a bit weird, to me it feels like the design of the player is at odds with the rest of the level design and almost as though he was designed for a different game but dropped into this one. It’s not a major issue though, unlike the jumping.
Every platform game has a distinct feel, and needs to pick the sort of jumping appropriate to the game. Whether it’s twitch jumping with quick restarts (Super Meat Boy, Celeste), floaty jumping with some in air control (N++) or just casual floatyness (Little Big Planet) they need to be right. It doesn’t feel right in Exception. Things like wall jumping feel laboured. Just jumping over obstacles feels a bit too wild, and given you can only take a few hits before having to restart, it can become frustrating.
Further to this, with all of the various colours, some of the enemies are a little hard to spot vs. some of the other obstacles which you can smash up. More than a few times I ran into a baddie and died when I thought I was simply coming up against a container which could be optionally smashed. Boss fights also suffer from this. As well as being a bit uninspiring, they are quite hard to focus on as projectiles can be confused with on-screen particle effects, which result in death. This is made worse by the game becoming slightly pixelated when you are near to death – which is a nice touch in some ways, but makes the problem worse.
The short levels make for quick doses of platform fun, and despite the issues I did enjoy playing it. I don’t think it’s going to set the world on fire but if you fancy a quick bit of on-the-go platform action, you could do worse than check this out.
Reviewed on Switch