LifeisXbox’s Escape From Naraka review | Sometimes, we have to review games that we’re initially not too excited about. But hey, as a reviewer you must have an open mind and be ready for anything! So, in all honesty, I dived into Escape From Naraka with little expectations. This first-person action platformer, developed by Xelo Games and published by Headup, was released last month, so it was time we checked it out.
Escape From Naraka is a game that takes huge inspiration from Balinese legends and local mythologies, turning this game into a real hellish nightmare. Fun fact actually: “Naraka” means “Hell” in Indonesian! I should warn you in advance that you won’t really learn about Balinese legends and this culture, which was a bit of a bummer. Nevertheless, the focus in this game remains on the gameplay, and that’s what we’re here for after all. Let’s go!
ℹ️ | We played Escape From Naraka for over 4 hours on PC. This game is only available through Steam.
What we liked!
- Speedrunner meets tactical thinking | Escape From Naraka is kind of a speed runner where you often have the pressure of time ticking away combined with precision-based jumping. With a total of seven stages or levels, this isn’t the longest game, but it offers a fair amount of challenge. It’s often a game of trial and error and trying to figure out what your next move will be. I like that it changes things up, like sometimes you have time to think things through, while other times force you to play and react quick. For example, at one point you have to climb a tower while the floor, which is made out of lava, is rapidly rising. It took me a lot of tries to reach the top, since precision-jumps were involved, and you didn’t have time to miss a single step of the lava would catch up to you. To help you out, you gather three abilities along the way: freezing things, dashing, and slowing time. These do come in handy, of course, and are needed to complete the levels.
It’s a very cool game that keeps you on the edge of your seat, and I found myself always wanting to ‘give it one more try before I quit for today’.
- Smooth controls | Since a lot of the times it comes down to speedrunning, smooth controls are essential. Luckily, the developers nailed the controls. You use both your keyboard and your mouse, and I never once got stuck because my controls didn’t ‘listen’ to me. Not once did I feel like the controls were at fault when I died, and my friend, I died PLENTY of times. Yeah, I’m not really good at these speedrunners since I get nervous and end up screwing things up. Still, the thrill Escape From Naraka provided was quite exciting.
- Graphics | As I mentioned in the introduction, Escape From Naraka takes its inspiration from Balinese legends and local mythologies. This is truly reflected in the art style of the game. I had a blast running through the various stages and admiring the art style, even if it was a tad dark sometimes. And of course, you had to run rather quickly a lot of the time, so there wasn’t plenty of time to admire your surroundings, but when you did have the time, it was wonderful!
- Competitive if you want it to be | After finishing a stage, you get a score. This score is made up out of four components: the amount of crystals you gathered in the level, the damage you have taken during your run, the amount of time it took you to complete the stage, and how many artificats you collected. This gives you a score, for example 7282 and B. I never got an A for a level, unfortunately, let alone something even better. B was my personal best, and I’m still pretty proud of that, knowing how much I suck at these games! Anyway, you can see where you landed on the leaderboard for each stage and for all stages together. If you want to be the number 1, I suggest you get on that already!
- Shout out to the saving mechanism | Since I am personally not very good at games like this, I’m really glad that Escape from Naraka had a good saving mechanism in place. In every stage, there are plenty of checkpoints without being overwelhming. Of course, too many saving points would take away a lot of the challenge, but the balance was perfect here. Another thing I very much appreciated, was that if you quit the game, you can just restart from your last checkpoint, rather than having to restart the whole stage/level as most games would have you do. I felt comfortable stopping at any point during the game because I know I would never lose any or much progress. And that’s just perfect for a clumsy gamer who dies a lot like me!
- Harsh enemies | There’s a variation of enemies present throughout the different stages. Now, the enemies actually make the gameplay a lot harder, and in a way, more interesting as well. I mentioned that you have three abilities, and that’s it. There’s no attacking ability so you guessed it: you cannot attack nor kill your enemies. On top of that, they are very fast and often kill you insanely fast. You have three life points but these are gone in seconds once they hit you. These unforgiving enemies might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and they can feel overwhelming at times. I absolutely hated the weeping angel kind of enemies because as you know, you continiously have to look at them as the second you turn around, they can move around and come for you. It was such a thrill, but not at all easy. The flying insects were quite difficult, in my opinion, and I lost many, many lives to them. So, if you dive into Escape From Naraka, don’t expect combat-like scenarios, but expect hard to pass enemies that often kill you instantly.
- Short | If, unlike me, you are really good at speedrunners, precision-jumping and dodging scary enemies, then Escape From Naraka might be a very short experience for you. Pros can probably finish this game in 1 or 2 hours, and if you’re not really competitive or not a completionist, that’s it for you since you won’t be trying to climb the leaderboard or try to gather all crystals. For a price of 15 Euros, I think this might be too short of an adventure for some, so keep this in mind!
What we disliked
- Nothing I especially disliked here!
How long to beat the story | 2 to 5 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 10+ hours
Similar with | SEUM, Dark Deception, DOOM
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂