Exo One Review – Interstellar Highway Hypnosis

Exo One

We all have those games that we put on after a long day. The kind that let you shut off your brain, immerse yourself in a cozy atmosphere, or simply provide you with the comfort of nostalgia. For me, those kinds of games usually include quiet, meditative, profound narrative experiences.

Exo One fits this category perfectly. It’s a game where you navigate expansive and beautiful alien worlds in a shift that can change shape to roll or fly into the horizon. Now that it’s out on PS5, does this strange and beautiful sci-fi title take us to must-see worlds, or will you fall asleep mid-flight? Let’s find out.

A Surreal and Meditative Experience

Exo One is a unique title that may not be for everyone, but it can certainly be played by anyone. The game’s controls are simple and effective. Its gameplay is equally simple, with subtle elements that can improve your overall performance, but no real pressure to hit a high score or the like.

The story overall is intentionally vague, but those who pay careful attention to the snippets of narrative between planetary exploration will find their efforts rewarded. During the opening of Exo One, you hear about a failed mission on the planet of Jupiter, one that claims the lives of several astronauts.

You also hear about blueprints sent by extraterrestrials that provide plans for a new type of ship that defies all human explanation. As you descend into your first world, it’s implied that you are indeed piloting this ship.

Some quick tutorials show how you can use the triggers to either increase gravity or flatten out the ship’s spherical shape into a disc that lets you glide like an interstellar frisbee. The gravity function, in particular, is useful when building momentum, as it lets you exponentially increase your speed to launch off the terrain.

Once in the air, a quick switch to your disc form lets you soar. You have a “jump” button you can use as well to gain a little extra air, but you’ll primarily need to manage your momentum through careful application of the gravity ability and your disc form.

This cycle of building up speed and soaring high into the sky is intoxicating, especially as you reach new worlds in your journey. Each planet is spread out before you, allowing you to choose how you navigate the path forward. In the distance, a bright blue beam shows your destination, but there’s no rush to get there.

Instead, the game lets you sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights. Subtle details like the way sunlight breaks through the clouds or beads of water gather on the screen sell a sense of immersion in the world.

Soaring high, only to turn downward to build up speed, lets you break the sound barrier in a satisfying display of both sound and a visual cone of fog that explodes outward from your ship. It all comes together to create a meditative gameplay experience perfect for those looking to unwind.

You’ll also spot strange objects on your travels. Balls of light that dance just outside your path. You can collect these to see some additional bits of lore in the form of text on the screen, and the collectibles also increase your overall power.

The PS5 version of Exo One is also exciting for using the DualSense controller. The game harnesses haptic feedback and the adaptive triggers to great effect. In particular, the tension on the triggers is superb when you’re using them to change shape or increase gravity.

Exo One is simple and devilishly complex from a story and gameplay perspective. The gameplay’s hypnotic nature allows players of all skill levels to benefit from it, but those who practice will discover the best ways to maximize their speed, both on the ground and in the air.

While purposefully vague, the story comes together by the end for a satisfying conclusion that answers many questions while leaving a few open for you to ponder. Its meditative and surreal atmosphere may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly for me.

A Vivid and Dreamlike Presentation

Exo One

Exo One’s presentation betrays its budget and indie roots. It’s a game filled with breathtaking vistas and countless visual details that look like something out of a big-budget title. From the moment you start your journey, the combination of strange, surreal landscapes and gorgeous lighting makes Exo One a feast for the senses.

On some worlds, you’ll roll and glide over peaks and valleys, while others will have you soaring above a layer of clouds, and still others will send you skipping across the surface of unfathomable oceans. There’s no shortage of visual variety, and while the gameplay may become repetitive by the time the credits roll, the journey is well worth your time.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Review code provided by the publisher

Article by – Bradley Ramsey
Insert date – 7/02/2024

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