Final Exam
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2013-12-14 Xbox 360 Arcade M (Mature) Focus Home Interactive / Mighty Rocket Studio

Final Exam was initially revealed as 2.5D side-scroller Obscure, but a few months later, there is actually no reference to Obscure aside from the premise of the story resembling the original: four college students return to their high school for a reunion party, only to find it overrun by zombies, demons and other assorted monsters. Ammo is scarce, health kits are precious, and monsters are everywhere.

You can play as one of the four characters, each possessing unique abilities and specific skills that you can improve as you progress through the game. Brutal Joe is an extremely strong quarterback, so he gets up close and personal during combat. Sean is a gun enthusiast, so his fighting style is range-based. Nathan excels at using explosives and is able to pick locks. Last but not least, Cassy bases her fighting moves on dance, and she can run faster than the rest.

The controls are fairly simple and responsive, which makes the game easy to pick up and play for anyone. Much like old-school side-scrolling brawlers, Final Exam is essentially a button masher but it also encourages you to pull off different moves, combos and multipliers against the hordes of nasty things that keep coming at you, in order to pull off special moves.

Monsters come in different varieties: some of them are quite strong, others are fast, some are gigantic, others can fly... and a few of them are just downright stupid. As you can guess, there are some strategies involved to fighting each one, by using specific skills and weapons. And while at first you'll be entertained by the different types of creatures, soon enough you run out of new things to see.

Your character levels up by using available skill points, which you earn according to your score at the end of the stage. You can then distribute the points among the skill tree to unlock new weapons, combos and skills, and to upgrade their attributes, customizing the gameplay to your liking.

Unlike what you would expect, the game isn't linear, and you are free to roam back and forth through the branching environments, attempting to complete objectives. A map would have been fantastic so that we could pinpoint positions and calculate the best path to take, but since we don't have one, we must make due with the markers that appear on the screen. And sometimes there are quite a few of them.

Playing on your own, the game is not much than a repetition fest with annoying fetch quests and a couple of hard to kill bosses. However, with a few friends, and thanks to the drop-in/drop-out online and local co-op, the experience becomes much more satisfying. It also becomes a lot more chaotic and easy to lose track of your character in the midst of the confusion! The game even goes to the point of adjusting the difficulty of the monsters since there are more players fighting them off, so don't expect to breeze through everything just because you have a couple of buddies with you.

Overall, Final Exam doesn't really add anything new to genre. It's fairly repetitive and truth be told, not so enjoyable solo. But there are some fun times to be had if you have a couple of friends willing to jump in on the action.