The 90s were a terrific time for first-person shooters, whether you owned a PC or a game console. There were a lot to choose from, whether you were into titans like Goldeneye 007 and Doom, or just wanted to try something different, like Quake or PO’ed and then…there was PowerSlave.
No, not the Iron Maiden album (though that rocks). Lobotomy Software’s first-person shooter was pretty epic at the time, taking advantage of both the Sega Saturn and PlayStation hardware and creating a terrific shooter in the process. That was a meaty challenge.
It’s been years since we’ve seen any sign of it. Thankfully, Nightdive Studios (the team behind the Turok revivals) have put it upon themselves to, ahem, exhume the game for new platforms. Just like back in 1996, it doesn’t get much better than this for good ol’ fashioned FPS action.
Trouble In Karnak
The game takes place in the Egyptian city of Karnak. You find yourself crash-landed there, and suddenly battling against the evil Kilmaat. This consists of Anubis soldiers, scorpions, and other evil spirits lurking about. With a little help from King Ramses, it’s up to you to make things right.
The story’s a mere placeholder for the action, which holds up surprisingly well here. That’s because Nightdive rebuilt the game with the help of a new Kex engine, so it runs beautifully. We’re talking 60 frames per second, probably the best the game has looked. However, it keeps its retro roots intact, with the classic sprites and environments we remember. Even the camel you meet at the end of the level is surprisingly still. (You’d think the scorpions would freak him out.)
The music and sound effects are about the same, but that’s fine. The game uses fine Egyptian themes throughout each level, and they sound fantastic even after all these years. We also like the sound effects, from the little scorpion chirps (especially when they explode) to the fireballs flying through hallways. Nice to see some stuff hasn’t changed.
Great Gameplay and Stacked Features
PowerSlave Exhumed really benefits from sharp gameplay. There were some innovations at the time that other games barely used, like having to track down keys and incredible level design. It all stays intact here, and though some of it is slightly aged, it’s still a lot of fun. The action is also quite ferocious, especially against larger boss enemies. Of course, slicing a scorpion to pieces with a sword never gets old. (“I’m Sinbad!” Anyone else yell that? No? Just me?)
The game’s difficulty is balanced just about right as well. Does it get tough at times? Sure, what 90s shooter didn’t? However, it’s easy to grasp the basics that the game presents, and you’ll be taking down Anubis dudes in no time. Seasoned players will want to track down all the secrets, just because they can.
Not only did Nightdive dig in with its new game engine, but it also packs PowerSlave with features. There’s widescreen support, making the game look better than ever. In addition, you can also add mouse look, as well as modern graphics API if your TV supports it. Throw in support for all kinds of controllers and a few achievements to unlock, and it’s gold. I think it would’ve been great to have the original game’s engine intact (for comparison purposes), but I digress.
I am thrilled that PowerSlave Exhumed has returned for players to enjoy. New players can see a classic FPS returned to its roots, but with features that stand out. Classic players will enjoy diving back in with a build that’s better than it’s ever been. The only people that might be annoyed by this is historians – and even they may agree that scorpions have got to go. (They’re just so damn annoying.)
Definitely pick up Exhumed. It’s nice to see a gem like this rise from the dead.
VIBE Rating: 9/10
(Reviewed on Nintendo Switch. Also available for PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/Xbox Series S/X and PC.)
Need more classic gaming goodness? Check out our review of River City Girls on PlayStation 5!