You may think you’re something of a video games whizz. After a few minutes of button-bashing and mouse-waggling you’ll figure out any game, you like to think. No. Nope. Not with this. Love maker Eskil Steenberg has released a public test version of his next game, Exo (formerly Dark Side of the Moon), and you should read the helpful file named How_to_play.txt. Without it, you may not even twig that it’s a stealth RTS about heavily-armed exosuits hiding in shadows. I certainly didn’t.
You may note that Eskil says he thinks “the game like any game should obviously be playable without instructions” but that it isn’t yet. That’s certainly true. Everything’s so abstract, so minimalist , so represented by icons that don’t really mean anything, that I was baffled in my first two games. Even the menus may not be clear. It is pretty, though. Still, he’s hoping that people will try to pick it up by simply playing, so you may as well give it a go. See how savvy you are. He’s also looking for balance feedback, so do share if you have any thoughts.
Eventually you’ll discover Exo is, as Eskil calls it, a “stealth action real-time strategy game” about controlling light and shadows in small arenas to catch out the enemy. Your units scamper about in the dark, visible only when they come near lights, tossed flares, or are illuminated by gunfire. You’ll also need to capture buildings to turn on lights, upgrade units, or create items.
It’s still early days for Exo, with Steenberg noting that this version “is missing loads of features and that everything is subject to change.” Right now it has online multiplayer, AI battles, and a sandbox mode where you can control both teams, and he plans to add single-player teaching how to play.