Mighty Rocket Studio, formerly Hydravision, best known for the survival horror titles Obscure and Obscure II, returns to their roots (sort of) with the side-scrolling action title Final Exam. Originally starting out as an Obscure title, the name of the game changed fairly late in the development cycle, as the game focuses on action and not survival horror. The narrative may be paper thin, but the beat ‘em up gameplay and the stylized colorful visuals satisfies. When four former stereotypical high school friends head to their high school reunion, they find the town is completely overrun by monsters.
Regardless of which character you choice to inflict the most punishment, you���ll be able to upgrade your abilities, health and damage as well as acquire multiple weapons. The quick tutorial gets you familiar with the different types of attacks including, juggling, melee and ranged combos and grenades. Moves can be combined into combos with relative ease, allowing you to launch monsters into the air, shoot them with your firearms, perform an air combo and smash them back down to the ground. Since you are competing with your friends for the best score, you’ll want to utilize the most effective combos possible without getting hit.
Final Exam features massive levels with plenty of backtracking – not unlike Metroidvania titles. Backtracking becomes tiring, as enemies spawn in previously cleared areas, forcing you to face the same group of enemies multiple times. Heading towards the on-screen objective marker, you may have to turn right around once you reach it, as a switch may need to be flipped or an item needs to be gathered on the opposite side of the map in order to advance. Playing through the game solo, you are forced to collect and move multiple items on your own, all the while fending off hordes of monsters. You’ll want to play Final Exam with friends, either locally or online to decrease the tedious nature of completing multiple objectives at the same time and backtracking through much of the environment. Monsters will constantly come after you no matter where you are and will even climb up or down ladders. Speaking of which, do not even try to out run them, as the monsters are always faster than you are. If an enemy is charging at you, it is best to dodge the initial attack and follow it up with a combo of your own instead of trying to fight it head-on.
Don’t expect to face off against a single enemy at any point in the game with most encounters featuring multiple monsters that will try to surround you. Every so often an alarm will go off signaling that a horde of creatures are on their way. Grabbing hold of and throwing enemies into each other or into nearby hazards can create some much needed space between you and your foes. As I briefly touched upon earlier, Final Exam includes both local and online multiplayer. Each of the characters have various special moves as well as passive abilities depending on their play style. The game compensations for additional players by increasing the amount of monsters, as well as adding more objectives to each of the levels.
The cooperative aspect of Final Exam shouldn’t be ignored, even though each player is competing for the best score with one another. You’ll want to finish levels as fast as possible to get the best score, but in order to upgrade your character, you must explore every inch of the environment for collectibles; chewing up valuable time. If you pick up the PC version of the game, I highly recommend using a gamepad such as a Xbox 360 controller or a DualShock 4.Note: Final Exam was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.