Taking a leaf from the world of Tron, Exception is a fast paced platformer where the main character is a Thread in an old lady’s computer. Unfortunately, this old lady has downloaded a virus which has transformed the thread world, where everything once was about making sure the computer was running fine to one where a virus has convinced the rest of the population to carry out processes that are actively harming the world. As one of the few Threads that hasn’t succumbed to the virus your character is tasked with restoring order by going through different nodes and restoring the system. The story itself is alright but is there to mainly get you from one level to another. It takes a back seat to a game that is a visual feast.
Exception’s world is full of bright neon stages with colours that really pop. The world seems to pulse with energy as you’re sprinting through levels, knocking through enemies with an energy baton as they charge at or fire their weapons at you. The level designs themselves are excellent and really test your reactions as well as skills.
You’ll need to learn the courses and get jumps timed perfectly to avoid encroaching obstacles that could end a run and to get the best time possible. A big part of the game’s visual and frenetic feel are the level transitions that transfer you to another area entirely or shift the level itself around you. It’s wonderfully slick and dynamic feeling, and at no point does it feel like it’s intruding or slowing down the action.
Accompanying the Exception gameplay is the exceptional soundtrack is an exceptional soundtrack that captures a kind of tech vibe. Some of the songs felt like that they could have been part of the Tron Evolution soundtrack by Daft Punk. The music just fits the aesthetic of the game perfectly.
As you die you’ll sometimes see corpses of your previous incarnations laying where they fell, be it from dying through jumping into a spinning blade or being shot by a boss. Each world has a boss battle at the end of it with the aim being to beat them as quickly as possible. You will die a fair few times while working out the attack patterns, but each boss pretty much requires the same tactic of hitting its weak spot. As long as you can avoid the clearly signposted attacks you’ll be okay. Some regular enemies also characteristics of the bosses leading up to those encounters, so you’ll likely be used to some of the attacks before going up against the big guys.
Exception was a tough beast to review, not because of any excessive difficulty or bad gameplay design, but because of bugs that affected the game at launch. Thankfully, since the game’s mid-August release, the developer Will Traxler has been able to update the game and resolve the crash bugs. I still occasionally feel like the character isn’t quite doing what I want or is jumping too far from one platform to the next, but your mileage may vary depending on whether you prefer to play with analogue stick or D-pad – I definitely leant toward the D-pad after initially trying the analogue stick.