In Extremis (PC) Review

By David Kelly 27.05.2017

Review for In Extremis on PC

In Extremis is an extremely stylised 2D shooting game that starts off playing like an old-school 80s vertical shooter, but soon morphs into a multi-scrolling affair with puzzle-like bosses, making it different enough to be worthy of the attention of fans of the genre. Cubed3 blasts off to see how it holds up.

The stylised look extends to every facet of the presentation and it seems to borrow from a range of games that over the years have been memorable for their presentation style, from Vib Ribbon and Kurushi, to the Bit.Trip series.

Mechanically speaking, most of the game rules have been seen before, from the expandable selection of weapons, the enemy and bullet patterns requiring accurate navigation and knowledge of the ship's collision box, to the scoring features, such as the multiplier than grows as long as the player doesn't leave too long between destroying enemies - a game feature of highly regarded DoDonPachi, considered by many as the one that kick-started the bullet hell genre.

Screenshot for In Extremis on PC

Levels are configured into a layout of branching paths, which encourages replay, and each have a distinctive graphical and audio theme that are tightly bound together - some more abstract than others. These themes are implemented to a very high standard and most certainly add to the game experience. One early example is a level themed around classical music, with orchestral instruments appearing as enemies, making their associated sound as they are defeated.

The first level is quite conservative, with an outer space theme and planetary background, though it is highly reminiscent of the Bit.Trip series initially published on the Nintendo Wii, featuring deliberately blocky renditions of enemies and bullets rendered in a very distinctive luminescent and eye-catching colour palette, all accompanied by gurgly chip tunes that could be considered typical of the genre even if its stylised state.

Screenshot for In Extremis on PC

Subsequent levels share a similar feel, but move beyond this initial theme and take the idea further and move further toward the abstract. They are full of cultural references to different artistic styles, at times almost veering on the psychedelic - and the developers use background graphical distraction almost as aids to enemies, but without feeling like a trick to produce cheap deaths. An extremely clever trick has been achieved keeping the balance right.

The soundtrack is similarly themed, varying from genre to genre, although there is a jazz undercurrent to many of the tunes, in one level sounding like a classic Miles Davis riff, in others Herbie Hancock jazz fusion. One could imagine footage of this game being played becoming an installation piece in an art gallery, never mind a high concept nightclub.

Bosses in the first few levels start off as straightforward shooting and dodging challenges, but soon veer off into the realm of puzzle gaming, and it is extremely refreshing to come across a game that doesn't treat a boss as just a way to end a level that requires dexterity and a fast button press.

Screenshot for In Extremis on PC

As the player clears levels there is an experience system that levels their ship up, unlocking continues and new weapons to try, encouraging experimentation at clearing earlier levels in new ways, instead of providing more powerful ways of clearing enemies in preparation for the next level.

The levels are to be learned, though. Enemies do not respond to player moves and they and their bullets follow pre-destined paths at times, creating quite beautiful and hypnotic patterns through which skilful navigation is required. Some levels add in environmental hazards, and this coupled with changes in the direction of forced scrolling creates quite a high level of challenge.

Screenshot for In Extremis on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

This is a slick package with excellent production values. The levels are enjoyable and highly replayable. It is unlikely that In Extremis will win over gamers who don't play this type of game, but fans are urged to give this one a try, which proves an excellent palette cleanser to those who have perhaps become a bit jaded with the genre.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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