Powerslave

aka: Exhumed, Powerslave (DOS Classic Edition), Ruins: Return of the Gods
Moby ID: 101485
DOS Specs
Buy on Windows
$9.99 new on Steam
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Description official description

Powerslave is a first person shooter with an arcade style level progression. There are 20 consecutive single-player levels and 12 multiplayer deathmatch levels.

Unknown alien forces have invaded the city of Karnak, and isolated it from the rest of the world. The inhabitants were subjected to torture, or injected with a substance, turning them into servient mummies. Even the mummy of king Ramses was not spared. After multiple failed attempts from world leaders to send armed forces to deal with the situation, you were chosen among a select few of the world's best special forces to infiltrate Karnak and destroy the invading forces from within. The mission turns awry, however, when your helicopter is shot down, and you find yourself alone, hoping to complete your mission and get out of the fray alive.

Contrary to the later console adaptations of the game, each of the 20 singleplayer levels are played back to back with the player hunting for keys and secret areas to proceed onto the next level, similar to other games of the time, such as DOOM. The game features a single save slot for each playthrough and has a checkpoint system, allowing the player to continue from the latest checkpoint they have found. Levels range from ancient cities and temples through sprawling caverns of also lava variety all the way to the alien Kilmaat ships, and are filled with traps and keys hiding multiple pathways from initial access.

The player starts their adventure with a mere Machete, but can find weapons such as a Revolver, M60, hand grenades and a Flamethrower to magical weapons such as the Cobra Staff that fires seeking snake projectiles, and the Eye of Ra gauntlet which summons Ra to strike enemies down with lightning. Basic enemies include mummies and men-turned-zombies representing ancient gods; Anubis, Bastet and Set. Mystical being such as the Am-Mit, Selkis and a lava beast called Magmantis are also included. The alien Kilmaat forces are represented by Kilmaat soldiers and Kilmaatikhan. Crazed wildlife is represented by Rats, Giant Piranhas, Terranian spiders and Omen Wasps.

Although the multiplayer in the game is set up to be deathmatch-only, it's possible to play the singleplayer levels with enemies.

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 58% (based on 13 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 31 ratings with 1 reviews)

A genuinely dull game

The Good
(Note: this review is for the DOS port of Powerslave, and by all accounts the Saturn version is superior. I haven't played it, but if you do get your hands on it assume it's better than is described here.)

A low-budget and under marketed FPS, Powerslave (known as Exhumed on the Saturn and Playstation) was never going to take the world by storm. Nevertheless it's a competent game that achieved some fame on it's home platform the Saturn and has a small cult following to this day.

The game's plot completely rips off Doom (jeez, doesn't that give you shivers), basically the Egyptian city of Karnak has been seized by otherworldly forces. You and your squad of soldiers get sent in to kick some tail. However, you get separated from your squad and have to lone-ranger things. Helping you is the spirit of King Rameses who gives you directions and instructions on how to use weapons and spells, etc. As a curiosity, Rameses is voiced by Don LaFontaine in all of his booming glory.

Powerslave's most striking aspect is its theme. Being able to fight mummies and jackal-headed demons is always a plus, and Powerslave goes through the motions of being a shameless Indiana Jones homage with weapons lifted straight out of the movies and levels that seriously could be sets from Raiders of the Lost Ark. When playing this game I can almost visualise Harrison Ford strutting around with that "I will not rest until evil is defeated" look. There's the obligatory middle-eastern soundtrack and an overhead map that from what I hear is geographically correct.

The game's graphics are decent for the time (in fact they use an early version of the engine that powers Duke Nukem 3D) with detailed sprites and animations. It supports a semi-destructible environment, ie you can blow up some walls to progress to other parts of the level. They even included a learning mode, truly a rarity for FPS games of the time.

The Bad
The game clearly has C-O-N-S-O-L-E P-O-R-T stamped all over it and they've done minimal work in adapting it to the PC. You have limited saves, no graphic settings other than the default, and no way to remap the controls (this is something you'll definitely notice, as the controls for activating spells are in the most retarded spots possible). Come on guys, I'm not expecting wonders but this is plain cheap.

But that isn't what kills the game. Powerslave is a boring game, it's as simple as that. The game has no tension and no pace. It's Indiana Jones for geriatrics.

Powerslave's enemies are almost comically weak and easy to kill. In the first half of the game I don't think I dropped below 30 health. Most of the game's "challenge" comes from navigating all the pointless mazes, tombs, and city streets the developers throw your way, and trying not to get lost in the process.

This might not have been so bad, except Powerslave's levels aren't that exciting either. Just a bunch of generic tombs and bazaars that all look pretty much identical, populated with low-grade boobytraps and other hazards. And of course there's the scourge of post-Turok console shooters: jumping puzzles. My favorite part on level three is where you have to make a near-impossible jump over a huge canyon, and if you fall you have to climb a huge-ass set of stairs that winds around the whole canyon and 30-40 seconds are wasted before you get back to where you were. Great.

The weapons are all weak and underpowered, ranging from a crappy pistol to the world's slowest-firing machine gun. There are also some magical weapons that look cool but are too unreliable and difficult to manage to be of much use.

And on a final nit-picky note there is an annoying over-use of mazes with situation-dependant exits. Often you'll have to shoot a wall to exit an area, but the game gives you no clues about which wall this is. Enter the not-so-fun activity of scouring an area and shooting all the walls, looking for a way out. Great.

It's all just lazy game design 101, and typifies Powerslave as a whole. It is competently made but never do you get the feeling the developers really cared about what they were making.

The Bottom Line
Powerslave was made at an exciting crossroads in videogame history. The 3D revolution was coming, and with it a tide of very popular games whose company Powerslave was destined not to share. Duke Nukem 3D made a splash, Quake made a freaking tsunami, and as far as I know this game didn't register at all. You don't have to look hard to see why, Powerslave is one of the tamest, least exciting games you'll play this side of Bible Adventures.

Kids and grandmas only.

DOS · by Maw (833) · 2007

Discussion

Subject By Date
PC version cheat codes & command line options MrFlibble (18090) Aug 29, 2012

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Dae.

Windows added by Plok. Macintosh, Linux added by lights out party.

Additional contributors: Plok.

Game added January 21, 2018. Last modified October 10, 2023.