Connect with top gaming leaders in Los Angeles at GamesBeat Summit 2023 this May 22-23. Register here.

Shotguns didn’t feature much in The Exorcist.

Based on what we have seen of the upcoming action-platformer Extreme Exorcism, Golden Ruby Games looks to correct that. Mae Barrons is a paranormal exterminator with more in common with Rambo than any of the Ghostbusters. The departed don’t stay gone for long, however, as each new round has a ghastly soul recreating the moves the player made Mae take in the previous round. I shot a few emails back and forth with Golden Ruby president Mike Christatos, discussing the inspirations that created this more direct approach to spectral pest control.

A exorcise in live rounds

Players are more familiar with shotguns than they are scrying crystals, according to Golden Ruby president Mike Christatos.

Above: Players are more familiar with shotguns than they are scrying crystals, according to Golden Ruby president Mike Christatos.

Turns out, Mae is a bit of a last resort when it comes to exorcists. By the time she arrives at a haunted locale, all of the more traditional Casper-killers have shuffled off into permanent game over. Barrons’ arsenal is not only the only remaining technique left, but it is also a more approachable weapon set for all players.

“Offering players the use of conventional weapons allows them a bit of an idea of how they will work once they pick them up,” Christatos wrote. “We rely on the idea of how a shotgun or rocket launcher would work in their head, so there is less of a surprise when acquiring them. That isn’t to say we don’t offer some unconventional weapons in the game as well. We wanted to try and hit that balance of comfort and surprise. And let’s not forget that these spooks are particularly hardcore. No one has been able to exorcise them until Mae and her team of exorcists…so having more than 20 weapons at their disposal is important.”


GamesBeat Summit 2023

Join the GamesBeat community in Los Angeles this May 22-23. You’ll hear from the brightest minds within the gaming industry to share their updates on the latest developments.

Register Here

Gamers’ disconcerting familiarity with weaponry aside, catering to player familiarity actually changed Extreme Exorcism from its original, clone-warfare prototype. And as it turns out, we are all far more accustomed to playing with “ghosts” than we may realize.

“In the original concept of the game, we were actually using ‘clones’ as the main enemy,” wrote Christatos. “In our initial tests, players didn’t really understand the game mechanic. By changing the name to ghost (we were trying to play off of the ghost mechanic from Mario Kart, which we love to play), players were more understanding of the idea.”

Ghost data

Many of Extreme Exorcism's core mechanics grew out of player testing.

Above: Many of Extreme Exorcism’s core mechanics grew out of player testing.

In a similar fashion to how the scariest horror movie creature is the one you never see — with members of the audience making it up in their collective heads — players’ own past actions can be the hardest AI to stack up against them. In Exorcism, new ghosts spawn with each round, mimicking the route and actions players took in the previous bout.

“We wanted to make a game where players’ actions would make the game harder over time,” Christatos wrote. “We decided to use the player’s previous actions as placeholder until we made a more sophisticated AI. But as it turns out, players offer more of a challenge to themselves than we ever could! We loved the concept of players having to better themselves in each new round and so did they, so we decided to keep it in.”

NEStalgic game design

The NES/SNES generation have grown up and become game developers, remaking their childhood in their own games.

Above: Members of the NES/SNES generation have grown up and become game developers, remaking their childhoods in their own games.

“A lot of game developers now grew up playing games with their friends or family on the same couch,” wrote Christatos. “If you’re losing and in the same room, there’s something special about being able to reach over and unplug your brother’s controller so you get the highest score. It’s more of a bonding experience: the trash talking, the laughter, the conversation. You can get that over the Internet for sure, but being there in person is just different. The great thing about Extreme Exorcism is that there’s not only 4-player local co-op, but Deathmatch too. So there’s a mode to suit whatever mood you’re in, depending on how you feel about your friends that day.”

Golden Ruby’s homage to their combined childhoods doesn’t end with the method of play. Much of Extreme Exorcism’s art, from attack animations, particle effects, and level layout, stem directly from the Nintendo and Super Nintendo gaming generation.

“The whole team wanted to pay homage to the games we all enjoyed growing up, so the NES/SNES era of games was a big influence,” Christatos wrote. “Our artist Johan Vinet is a huge fan of that era and was such a blast to work with. He was right there on the same page when we talked about our love for local multiplayer and [our inspirations]. We told him to have fun with it and throw in his personal touches, which you can see throughout the game in the various attack animations and their design.”

Scrying crystals just don’t work as well as a rocket to the face. Extreme Exorcism is a love letter to the gaming experiences of the past that pits players against an ever-increasing flood of ghosts, spooks, and worst of all, themselves. But for those that feel they can’t relate to the life of a specter-killer and her reverse-séances, Mike Christatos let me in on an all-too-common shame of my generation.

“Mae has a ton of student loans to pay off after getting her Masters in Sociology, so she needs the cash.”

Too bad no one offers an advanced degree in supernatural extermination.

GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.