Not content with finally getting seminal Build engine classic Blood back on digital storefronts (Switch port, please!), as well as the first two Turoks, Doom 64, Quake and Shadow Man, Nightdive Studios have finally got Ancient Egyptian FPS Powerslave (known in the UK as Exhumed) out of its sarcophagus and re-released it as the perfectly-named Powerslave Exhumed, finally giving modern gamers a chance to enjoy this tremendous little gem of a game.
Unusually, this is one boomer shooter from that’s best-known for its home console editions rather than the almost entirely different PC title. Home computer folks had to put up with a much less interesting, far more linear take on the game. Annoyingly, though, while both the Saturn (1996) and PlayStation (1997) versions offered a far superior title, they each had something to offer in their varying level designs. Brilliantly, then, Nightdive have combined the stage layouts of both games in order to separate the wheat from the chaff and deliver the best possible version of the game.
And, well, they have. And it is. This is Powerslave in a way we never thought we’d see it: complete, unexpurgated, even more polished. Every last little nook and cranny is here, in higher resolution than it has ever been before. All the expected Nightdive options are here; menus upon menus letting you customise basically every facet of your inputs, the gameplay and the visuals. Even if you don’t, though, you’ll find things perfectly pitched. Even on the loose Switch sticks the game feels brilliant, and the inclusion of (yes!) gyro aiming goes a long way to mitigate some issues with the early game.
Issues, you say? Indeed. Now, bearing in mind that it’s easier to deal with this stuff than it ever has been, it’d be remiss of us not to let you know that you’ll mostly be fighting scorpions and spiders in your first couple of hours with Powerslave. That’s fine, sure, but it can be fiddly aiming attacks at this tiny little terrors as they leap towards you. In fact – whisper it – there are shades of Daikatana (gulp!) in the scale of these battles.
Don’t worry though, things almost instantly pick up. As it’s made for consoles, this game has some systems that have been simplified from what you may expect of a shooter of its ilk. This is no bad thing. Ammo is handed through blue mana, and simply goes to the gun you currently have selected. Out of ammo? Unlikely, but you’ve got a handy sword to swing around and you’re pretty mobile from the off, even without any power-ups.
Yes! You see, Powerslave Exhumed is a Metroidvania, of sorts. A Metroid Prime before Metroid Prime. While it does have discrete stages that you select from a rather gorgeous world map, you will need to revisit them repeatedly as you gather new abilities such as high jumps and horizontal levitation, or more situational skills such as breathing underwater or walking hazardous terrain. It's all going to be fiercely necessary because secrets absolutely abound in this expansive Egypt-'em-up, from the usual keys and doors (don't be surprised, it's a boomer shooter) to staggeringly well-hidden radio transmitter pieces and, even more esoteric, the "Team Dolls". Let's not reveal too much about those.
It all means nothing if the shooting's bad, of course, so thank Anubis that it's actually brilliant. The weapons aren't just your generic stock arsenal, they're actively good and interesting. Besides the usual pistol and machine gun you've got access to hand grenades (incredibly useful for bomb jumping), a flamethrower and various artifacts that let you cast various spells such as laser-hands and homing shots. It's all a blast, pun intended, and it's enormous fun to mow your opponents down as you puzzle out the game.
As mentioned, it's a great port from Nightdive. We experienced no hitching or slowdown and the game looks superb, much better than the console originals while remaining absolutely faithful to their aesthetics and game feel. It's a fantastic presentation of a game that's always been visually striking, if a little familiar when compared to the likes of Hexen.
Honestly, it's tempting to give Powerslave a 10 just for being available again, but no. That would, of course, be naughty. Here it is, though, in even more than all its glory — a brilliant, beautiful reworking that captures the very essence of what made it so awesome back in the day while giving the best of both the Saturn and PlayStation's distinct versions. For such a prototypical take on Metroid Prime, it's alarming and impressive just how much confidence Powerslave Exhumed shows in its design, making it the best kind of retro game — one that's even better today with full knowledge of how ahead of its time it really was. An easy recommendation to FPS fans of any vintage, Powerslave Exhumed will keep you playing and playing, searching for those last niggling secrets.
Amazing game! It only needs a physical release!
The enemies in corridors should be fix in a next patch there was a slight issue with the hit box of the player character. he is build like a pyramid it feels like it now.
@OorWullie what do you think of this? I never played Exhumed, but I did have a Saturn back in the day and I remember wanting this badly!
Wow, looks almost as bad as Ed Hunter (1999 Iron Maiden videogame). But at least as i read the gameplay is good! Now we just need Daikatana Unleased on Switch
Review sounds good though, I'll keep an eye on it!
Nightdive Studios is the HAMSTER of retro fps. Hopefully after this they give us some Unreal Tournament and TimeSplitter as well.
At this price, I may just get Quake, instead.
@AmplifyMJ I spotted it on the Eshop the other day and it was a very nice surprise. I will be getting it for sure. I really.didn't expect it to get a 9 here.
I'll let you know how I get on with it.
I bash a lot of the retro/remake/remaster reviews for reviewing in a vacuum (and only looking at the past through the lint bag), so I also wanted to give credit where it’s due.
I wish more media could acknowledge the concept of things can get better with age. This is especially the case with experimenters, pioneers, and those dead branches killed by the market and not the concept.
Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter would be a great example. Now that we’re saturated in rogue-ish elements in so many games, it really looks like a game waaay ahead of it’s time, and since today’s players have been acclimated to it’s ideas, now is the time to talk about it and drum up some interest.
Games like Tail of The Sun sure looked like a dead end in 1998, but there’s more open-world survival sims succeeding on the market in 2022 than 3D Mascot Platformers or whatever the trend was then.
There’s so much amazing past to dig up. The fans and the enthusiast press should be driving the market for remakes more. Where’s all the Saturn weird Saturn-era innovators? When Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 tops the charts, where’s the write-up for SNES’s Uniracers and petitioning Nintendo to add it to NSO?
I know clickbait and FOMO are the tools of the trade, but there’s always an opportunity with an audience to create culture. DieHard GameFan from back in the day is a great example of being tastemakers and conversation starters rather than dubious critics and more dubious journalists.
Fond memories of this when I had it on Sega Saturn, one of a small bunch of games I’ve ever completed. Going to hold fire to see if limited run pick up a physical version
It is great that we are getting so many of these recently, but I am still hoping for Hexen to come to Switch! 🙂
You're not doing a Maiden reference because you don't know any.
🎵"Please stick to the K-Pop and Ed Sheeran you're used to."🎵
@khululy oh really? That's good news-i did wonder why I have to strafe a long way to move away from enemy projectiles!!
@AmplifyMJ Aamxing game on the Saturn, bought it launch day..
First, nice to see the Iron Maiden non-reference reference up at the top. This update to Powerslave seemed to come out of nowhere. Good to see this game made more widely available. The game was always highly regarded from what I saw, I remember stumbling upon the Saturn game unexpectedly and it was definitely a cool technical showcase for the system at the time.
Tiny jumping enemies? Ugh! That definitely sounds daikatanaesque. Nice to hear the game gets better than that!
I had only played it on PC, the first level in the remaster was completely different different than I remembered. I think you can get the original PC release on GoG and play it through BuildGDX so you have the best of both worlds.
@Specter_of-the_OLED I heard rumors of a Time Splitter re-release by another studio recently.
@Johnno137426 Some devs are very involved with people on the Nightdive Discord and take a serious look at valid complaints regarding their games.
This game is absolutely fantastic. It was way ahead of its time.
Oh, very much my jam. I used to hate boomer shooters when I was a kid, but the Switch has allowed me to come around to them, mostly with Doom (including 2 and 64) and Quake. This looks dope, too.
I'm getting it as soon as I'm done with Dusk.
I had the review of this from an issue of CV & G, always looked interesting, but the review made it seem fairly "by the numbers" for its time. I vaguely recall 6 or 7 out of ten but don't quote me. It's nice that it gets to see light of day in today's modern era. Alot of games from yesteryear might go down completely differently today. I like Nightdive.
Is death tank unlockable? That’s all I want to know!
I don't love the terminology either, but that's what everyone's calling these post-Doom/pre-Half-Life shooters now, generational inaccuracies aside. The term's used even in the text of this review.
I think in the late 90s there was Doom-like fatigue. After all, the entire genre was just called "Doom-likes," not FPS. So a lot of perfecly worthy games were dismissed back then as "more of the same" and didn't acquire the classic status they may have deserved. Now after two decades of post-Half-Life linear corridor shooters, all these Doom-likes seem fresh again.
@WaveBoy Shadow Warrior is really fun too. I would like a remaster with weapon AND item wheel. Yeah it owes quite a lot to Duke Nukem with having item management on the fly too (it even has the same hilarious kind of humour).
The game I've been looking forward to most this month and one of the very best games from the Sega Saturn, I can't wait to dive back into this one
@Lord A true fan, I see. Can’t believe that’s not addressed. We played that ten times more than Powerslave itself. Hahaha...
@IronMan30 Would you have said that about the Turok games when they came out?
Quake has been on sale forever, so it makes sense that a third or fourth purchase of it should be cheaper, it has never been unavailable or unpopular.
Powerslave Exhumed is a remaster of a game almost forgotten to time that has never been re-released. It's niche, and the amount of work put in to it is staggering. It's a project at least seven years in the making that involved lots of legal and technical hurdles to get here. It's not the same as re-releasing a game like Quake, yet again, that is open-source, and has had all the hard-work and heavy lifting already done for it.
Besides, the Powerslave Exhumed experience is absolutely worth the asking price - it's your loss, I guess.
I'll be buying this. And counting down until Blood finally gets a release, hopefully with full multiplayer. That almost might push Silksong off my most wanted 🤣
@khululy Just as long as it's not played on the Steam Deck, right?
@AJB83 I'll get this when it's $10. That price seems fair to me.
These older games are showing that there's more to life than the annual big CoD installments out there. Love that they're all making a resurgence.
Yeah, this is an awesome release - so easy to highly recommend to almost any gamer. I've certainly been enjoying it a lot!
@WaveBoy Motion controls at 120fps are awesome for Quake on PS5. Of course I also have to have it on Switch. Then I found out it was on gamepass. So I kinda triple dipped on that one!
@Lord I want to know that too! I've been wanting Death Tank on Switch for years.
Which has better graphics this game or Pokemon?
@IronMan30 I got the digital and physical version of Quake. $10 and $45.
@Beaucine Yeah, people use the term boomer quite lightly nowadays, lol. My dad is an actual boomer because when he was a kid he had a dream that television would be in color someday and my grandmother laughed at him, lol. Now that's a real boomer, lol .. He turns 75 in September.
@Specter_of-the_OLED Timesplitters would be such a great fit on the Switch! Loved it back in the day on GC.
@Beaucine aye, I agree. Also when Half life gained popularity, I scratched my head thinking, "this really isn't much different". Much preferred Turok, Duke, Quake, Goldeneye and Unreal Tournament in the late 90s.
One of my favourite early Doom clones (Called them clones back then, not likes, like now) was Alien Versus Predator on the Atari Jaguar.
It is great that Nightdive gives some older games another chance to shine.
Edit: I just booted up shogo Mobile Armoured Division, what a FPS.
Loved this, but if its not on physical, no sale.
@WaveBoy Reading your response, then coekiemonster's question about whether Powerslave Exhumed or Pokemon Arceus has better graphics made me laugh so much!
Yeah, I've wanted to see Monster Boy at 120fps, but it never seemed to get patched. I'll have to check again.
Also, I totally agree about Sony updating all their games to run at 120. I've been playing Ghost of Tsushima, but it really sucks having it at a motion blurry 4k instead of whatever resolution they could get it running at 120fps. Same with Wipeout Omega Collection, but I've heard the rumor that some kind of development is ongoing (but still, patch it up to 120 asap!). Oh, and I've lost interest in GT 7 once they announced no 120fps.
Sometimes I wish I could buy a 720p TV that goes up to 120fps or higher. I actually wish someone would make a brand new CRT. I can't imagine how much I'd love a CRT at 120 or higher.
@IronMan30 If you don’t already have the Quake remake, I would definitely recommend it. They did a nice job with that one.
@JustMonika I haven't bought a Quake game since 64. People say the one they put out recently has some very cool features.
Just as a general clarification to everyone, I wasn't trying to disparage the work put into this game. I'm just saying it costs more than I'm willing to spend.
Given that 4 and the fan release keep getting put off, this may be the best alternative.
Many will argue with me, and perhaps they're right, but in my personal opinion, the Timesplitter series was the epitome of the FPS. I still find myself comparing modern shooters to it.
@Spiders I'd love to see Uniracers come back, but it's trapped in legal limbo. Pixar sued Nintendo because they felt the unicycles looked too similar to one they made in a short film called "Red's Dream". Some judge agreed and rulled in their favor, basically deciding Pixar owns the trademark for generic cartoon unicycles.
I'm about three and a half hours in and really enjoying this so far. I was thinking the metroidvania aspects would really hinder the experience for me but so far I haven't really gotten lost and the game is nice enough to at least give you a couple hints after acquiring an artifact. Only real gripe with it so far is the swimming controls (then again what FPS has good underwater handling? I'll wait.) and the whole monsters-packed-into-tiny-corridors thing it likes to do.
@WaveBoy Yeah, when I first got my PS5 and then Series X I was using my sort of old monitor. It's 27 inches 1080p and 144hz. But since getting my 48 in LG C1 I don't use it at all ( I wish I could've gotten a smaller 120fps TV). I've been surprised how much I like the way the two newer consoles look on it, but also how the Switch looks on it. I've been playing tons of Pokemon Arceus and as long as the 30fps frame times remain even and perfect the LG C1 can basically boost the viewed image up to 60fps (although it often looks smoother than that, but not the same as a locked 120fps game). Breath of the Wild looks awesome to me with all the clarity settings and black frame insertion maxed out. Oh, and I tried Bayonetta 1 and 2 and I think they look great. So even 720p looks good to me on this 4k set. Gameplay is king, but smoothness and lack of motion blur are the number one companions to fun gameplay.
I think you have mentioned Blur Busters? Anyways, I love that website and almost bought a monitor that they've certified as extreme low motion blur.
I’m just shocked Wolf 3D ain’t on the Switch in any form. It’s on everything else.
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