Review: Not Only Is PowerSlave Exhumed Important for Game History,  It’s Surprisingly Fun

Screenshot: PowerSlave Exhumed

Retro game guru Night Dive studio either really knows how to pick them, or they do an excellent job with their remasters. I think the truth is a little bit of both, because while I was vaguely familiar with PowerSlave from my youth, I don’t think I ever even say anything beyond a small magazine screenshot. But Night Dive studio has given PowerSlave a loving remaster treatment in its proprietary Kex engine, and it supposedly blends the best of the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn versions into the modernized PowerSlave Exhumed that we have today, and if you like retro games, you’re in for a treat.

PowerSlave Exhumed is a first person shooter. In it, you play as a ‘covert operations specialist’ as you fight your way through hordes of terrifying creatures that have taken possession of powerful Egyptian artifacts. The story is an excuse to shoot Egyptian-themed enemies through levels with vaguely Egyptian architecture decorations. But while most retro shooters have you go down endless corridors looking for keys, PowerSave mixes up that gameplay a little bit.

Screenshot: PowerSlave Exhumed

I would be lying if I said PowerSlave didn’t have you collect keys to open locked doors, but it’s surprisingly more than that—and ahead of its time in terms of game design. Instead of merely playing through each level, back-to-back, there is a surprising amount of backtracking, and even some (arguable) metroidvania moments. Your quest is to recover six artifacts, but you’ll need various upgrades to navigate each level. Some levels have multiple exits, and while you can reach one on your first playthrough, you’ll often need to replay levels with better abilities to bypass obstacles and find alternate exits. I was genuinely surprised when I found out that it has overarching progression, and an overworld that allows you to revisit old locations. That’s just something a lot of old games—especially first person shooters—didn’t do. It also has some impressive level design, with lots of secrets to find.

PowerSlave Exhumed  still looks and plays like an old game, but the Kex engine port brings lots of modern features like widescreen support, achievements, mouse look,  support for modern gamepads and modern graphics API support. This definitive edition of PowerSlave also mixes together the PlayStation and Saturn versions, but also changes a whole lot. Even the title is a mash-up between the North American and European versions, with it being called PowerSlave in the States but Exhumed overseas.

Screenshot: PowerSlave Exhumed

 

Still, even if PowerSlave Exhumed has a lot of modern features, and it was ahead of its time, its modern accessibility doesn’t necessarily make it appealing to a contemporary audience. You’re still fighting sprite-based enemies in what looks and feels a lot like the Build Engine. I’m just happy that PowerSlave Exhumed exists so it can be accessed by those without access to the old media and hardware.

Powerslave Exhumed is another brilliant update by Night Dive Studios. This Kex engine port is the definitive version of the classic PowerSlave, and it even manages to be surprisingly fun and impressive for a retro shooter. If you want some nostalgia, or to check out an upgraded hidden gem, PowerSlave Exhumed is easy to recommend.

 

PowerSlave Exhumed is available today for PC via Steam and on Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S|X and PlayStation 4 and 5.

 

 

 

 

A Steam key was provided to us for the purposes of this review.

 

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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, video game historian, and small streamer.
He is also the editor of the Games and Tech section but does not get paid for his work at 3CR.
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