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Exo One Review

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Over the past year, I’ve become a big fan of gravity-based physics in games that are what I refer to as the next evolution of endless runners. These third-person “runners” feature physics that require you to use momentum, gravity, and natural energy to move your character or object through each level, often while overcoming obstacles and figuring out the perfect line en route to the finish line.

Exo One – from sole indie developer Jay Weston (also known as Exbleative) – is a gravity-defying sci-fi adventure where you take control of an alien transportation system that is capable of manipulating gravity, drifting, rolling, and ultimately flowing through enigmatic and desolate worlds throughout the far-reaching corners of the universe. The narrative centers around your mysterious mission, giving vague glimpses of your previous life on earth as you explore each planet with your crew. That said, Exo One is very much a solo adventure.

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Exo One Lava

It’s you and your space craft as you explore each vast, desolate planet, each coming with its own planetary characteristics and terrain. Some planets have lava fields with smoke that pushes your gliding spacecraft higher into the air. Others have wide sweeping mountain ranges with massive peaks and valleys to roll through.

Related: Grow: Song Of The Evertree Review – I Can’t Stop CleaningOne of my favorite levels, Nautica, features a planet made entirely of water. Obviously, one of the first things that I did was dive down into the water to see if (a) I could, and (b) how far I might be allowed to go. I was surprised and delighted to discover that I was able to take my spacecraft to the very bottom of the ocean and casually roll along the seafloor. There was no invisible wall or limitation, which is a rare thing in these types of games.

What makes this genre of games so enjoyable is that, typically, they strike a solid balance as a relaxing experience while invoking some sort of emotional response, whether that be fear, excitement, nostalgia, whimsy, or all of the above over the course of the game. Exo One absolutely nails it in that regard. With the aforementioned Nautica level, my anticipation and dread combined with wonder and excitement as I dove down into the dark, empty abyss of the ocean. Returning to the seemingly safe surface brought those emotions as well. Would I come across some sort of alien sea creature as I ascended back to the surface? Was I missing something important above the water as I explored the murky depths? It felt as though anything could happen, and I was ready for it.



Exo One Rolling

One of the other defining features of Exo One is its story. It is a perfectly executed story based in science fiction, with enough mystery and intrigue to keep me playing straight through to the end. Why was I on this mission? What was the end goal? Was this a one-way trip, or would I get to return home? I had to know more, especially with the massive alien monoliths that are scattered throughout each world. It’s very easy to lazily slap together a science fiction story, but it’s clear that Exbleative put a lot of consideration into Exo One’s narrative. It made me want to go watch Coherence, or replay Observation, both of which are similarly excellent examples of the psychological science fiction genre.

I admittedly came into Exo One a bit overconfident in my skills of controlling the spacecraft. From the prior gameplay footage I had seen, I figured it was a straightforward sort of “running” experience that would be easy to pick up and play right away. I was wrong. Exo One’s gravity-based physics rely on precision, requiring you to keep an eye on how much energy you have to make sure you don’t run out. If you are, it’s a matter of sending your craft hurtling back towards the surface of the planet, gaining more potential energy and momentum to keep you gliding through the air. If you run out, though, no biggie. You’ll just roll along the surface a bit slower until you’re able to launch back up into the air. Exo One does a great job of not limiting you or preventing you from progressing through each level.


As confusing as this might sound, Exo One is every bit relaxing as it is intense. Its exploration of the mysterious and deep reaches of space combined with its perfectly arranged soundtrack creates a different kind of sci-fi experience that should definitely be checked out by fans of the genre. As far as I know, this is Exbleative’s first title, but it’s an absolute banger. I’ll be eager to see future projects from the studio, science fiction-based or otherwise.


Exo One Rating

A PC code was provided to TheGamer for this review. Exo One will launch on November 18 for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.

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