Horror titles have always been my favorite genre of video games since I was just a kid. My dad would always let me play the scariest games and would even pick up a second controller to play with me. However, if my dad decided to buy The Red Exile for my birthday, I would have probably exiled myself and escaped out of the nearest exit of the family home. Describing itself as a survival horror, The Red Exile led me to instead try to survive against my own boredom.
Where Am I?
As the game begins, players are immediately plunged into a procedurally generated set of rooms covered in blood-red lighting and distant sounds of laughter from the axe-wielding killer. Tasked with finding candles to complete a ritual, players can roam the level through multiple square-shaped rooms. Items can be collected, such as crowbars for removing barricades from doors or needles that can be injected into the player character for an extremely short boost of speed. As players navigate the rooms, distant laughter and the sounds of opened doors can be heard, indicating that the player is certainly not alone.
Hide or Die
The gameplay elements surrounding the killer are nothing new to what players will have experienced with most horror titles like Outlast, Amnesia, or Penumbra. The protagonist can easily pick up potential weapons, like giant needles and crowbars, but will never once be able to stab or smack the killer over the head for a brief respite. Instead, players must avoid being seen at all times. If they are caught, a chase sequence will ultimately initiate, and it will only end by slipping behind the killer once their back is turned and hiding in lockers or the corners of rooms. If players can avoid the killer’s gaze for long enough, the game will decide that the killer will become enraged and immediately track toward the player’s position, smashing down doors in the hopes of granting a death scene that is basically just a stare-off.
The Red Exile proves itself to be extremely minimalist in its designs. The developers make attempts to keep the player interested by using a perks system. Throughout each run, players will earn scores based on their performance. For example, if the player is caught by the killer, they earn one perk point, but if they manage to exile the killer, they can earn up to three. These stackable points can be used to unlock perks that are honestly extremely simplistic and offer very limited changes to the gameplay. For example, one perk that allows the player to hear the killer from further away can be made completely void from the fact that the game will simply decide to enrage the killer if the player takes too long to explore. Most of the time, perks are completely trivial, and I have never once felt that I benefitted from using them. Even so, jumping back into gameplay felt the same as ever before from the first run to my last.
With regards to the killer itself, its appearance is that of a 7ft., bald, zombified man wielding an axe and laughing every so often using stock audio vocals. There is nothing interesting or unique about the way the antagonist is designed. The axe is just for show, minus the breaking down of doors, but death scenes just involve the killer’s sewage breath radiating towards the character’s face. Even a cutscene where the character might trip, look up, and see the axe swinging toward their head before the screen cuts to black would have been better.
There really isn’t much else to discuss about The Red Exile. The protagonist is just a camera with arms, and the killer is more obsessed with staring contests than actually murdering the protagonist. It’s a boring, one-dimensional fetch quest simulator that should have had far more time in the oven or none at all.
Developer: eastasiasoft, NipoBox
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Release Date: 18th June 2022 (PC), 2nd August 2023 (consoles)