Exo One review: a deliriously fun trip through sci-fi dreamscapes

Exo One is a video game about momentum.

Fittingly, the video game invests no greater than a couple of seconds teaching its mechanics. You manage what is basically a modern marble in a desert of unlimited, rolling dunes. The rhythm of the video game originates from the marble’s capability to increase or reduce its relative gravity: high gravity down a slope to construct speed, low gravity to rocket up the opposite. You can likewise keep the marble round, to much better roll on the ground, or flatten it into a disc, to much better cut through the air.

Exo One wastes little time on exposition or tutorialization. Rather, it presumes that the large delight and flexibility of speeding throughout these landscapes will suffice to hook the gamer. It presumes properly.

a clip of a marble tearing down a slope before jumping off of a dune in Exo One

Image: Exbleative/Future Pals Games through Polygon

It assists that the feel of essentially whatever in Exo One is refined to excellence. When you call up the gravity, your marble favorably drops downward, rolling as unstoppably as a bowling ball tossed down a halfpipe. When you utilize that inertia to speed back into the air, you can feel the wind whipping around the marble, the landscape extending constantly in front of you. Fly high adequate and your next descent might break the speed of noise, the marble’s large speed outmatching its own sonic boom. The physics of Exo One are forgiving enough that you never ever feel entirely inefficient, however exact enough that you’re constantly identified to reach a greater speed, a more completely preserved momentum.

The worlds you’re provided to speed through are likewise amazing, a series of worlds each made from a single, frustrating visual. The desert of the very first level will become changed by huge cliffs, rolling oceans, and icy peaks. The art style has an eye for the remarkable; the sun will generally hang low in the sky, and massive storms often sweep each biome, covering the map in clouds simply asking to be flown through. Exo One’s levels feel ripped from the covers of paperback sci-fi books, more worried with tone and sensation than any useful environment.

Regrettably, while the worlds are regularly stunning, they are less regularly enjoyable to pass through. Lots of present unique difficulties, like a huge range of mountains to difficulty or an electrical storm to draw power from. However these difficulties are struck or miss out on. A world covered nearly totally in water is more laborious than interesting to move through, and an asteroid field stops the video game’s otherwise quick momentum. More than when, I wanted I might go back to the very first world’s basic rolling dunes, which were the best match for the marble’s mechanics. The last level is especially frustrating in this regard; though aesthetically impressive, it mostly deserts the physics I had actually grown so connected to throughout the video game.

The marble makes a leap into the sky in Exo One

Image: Exbleative/Future Pals Games through Polygon

Exo One’s fast speed indicates that no aggravation stays for too long, though; each level passes in a matter of minutes, and I ended up the whole video game in under 2 hours. Nevertheless, this brevity likewise indicates that the video game’s story, meant through short lived flashbacks and garbled discussion, doesn’t have much opportunity to make an impression. It is interesting to be struck by lightning in the midst of an extraterrestrial thunderstorm and catch a split-second glimpse of an obviously terrestrial photograph. But the narrative’s vague delivery meant I never felt as emotionally engaged as I wanted to be. It’s not bad, and it doesn’t get in the way; it just feels so tertiary to the experience Exo One offers.

Ultimately, though, these complaints pale in comparison to just how deliriously fun it is to rocket down the hills and soar through the atmospheres of each gorgeously rendered planet. Exo One is not a mechanically deep video game, nor a narratively enthralling one, but nevertheless, I see myself returning to it many times in the future. The game pulls off a fantasy I’ve heretofore only approached in my dreams: to leave all remnants of Earthliness behind and skim the surface of an alien world, the desert as smooth as polished glass.

Exo One was released on Nov. 18 on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PC. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, however Vox Media might make commissions for items acquired through affiliate links. You can discover extra details about Polygon’s principles policy here.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.