With their first game, the developers from Xelo Games want to take us into a mystical world full of ancient gods and monsters. Escape from Naraka, initially known as Leyak, takes us into a temple inspired by the Hindu cultures of Bali, from which we must seek a way out. From the first-person perspective, we jump over nasty traps, climb to dizzying heights, and sneak past nasty enemies as unseen as possible.
Even if the game was only officially announced recently, we now have the opportunity to explore these magical murals ourselves as part of a demo. Escape from Naraka presents us with some straightforward classic gameplay that runs through the game’s level structure and combines 3D platforming elements with slight shooter interludes. On the way to the level’s exit, we time platform passages, collect gems, solve (simple) puzzles, and even find one or the other hidden secret. Nevertheless, the sections are strictly linear and in the end, we even get a high score. This makes Escape from Naraka feel like a relic from a bygone era of gaming.
However, that doesn’t have to mean it’s bad. The demo plays smoothly and, thanks to fair checkpoints, was never too difficult, but pleasantly challenging. An exciting core element is the elementary crystals with which we can use to cast magic spells. In the finished game, there should be three different ones, so far we could only use the ice crystal to slow down opponents like the stone warrior and a hammer-wielding elephant, or save crumbling platforms from collapsing.
You might already notice it from our description: Escape from Naraka won’t be a particularly extensive game when it comes to features. There neither is a mana gauge nor any RPG elements, and the combat system is also quite simple. On the other hand, the game is already running very well, with only the jump controls feeling occasionally a bit imprecise.
It remains to be seen whether the developers can turn the solid foundation of the demo into a monumental structure that we would like to break out of in the final game. It is still unclear whether the reduced gameplay can be challenging in the long term and whether the scenario can offer enough variety. Fortunately, the developers still have a little time: Escape from Naraka is not due to appear for PC on Steam until March 15, 2021, versions for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, as well as Xbox One and Series X are also planned.