Game history

Review: PowerSlave Exhumed is not only important to the game’s story, but it’s surprisingly fun

Screenshot: Unearthed PowerSlave

Retro gaming guru Studio Night Dive really knows how to choose these, or they do a great job with their remasters. I think the truth is a bit of both, because even though I vaguely knew PowerSlave since I was young, I don’t even think I’ve said anything beyond a little magazine screenshot. But the Night Dive studio gave PowerSlave loving remastering treatment in its proprietary Kex engine, and it supposedly blends the best of Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn releases into the modernized version PowerSlave Unearthed we have today, and if you like retro games, you’re in for a treat.

PowerSlave Unearthed is a first person shooter game. In it, you play as a “covert ops specialist” as you fight your way through hordes of terrifying creatures who have taken possession of powerful Egyptian artifacts. The story is an excuse to shoot Egyptian themed enemies through levels with vaguely Egyptian architecture decorations. But while most retro shooters have you roaming endless hallways in search of keys, Energy saving mixes up this gameplay a bit.

Screenshot: Unearthed PowerSlave

I would be lying if I said PowerSlave you didn’t collect the keys to open the locked doors, but it’s surprisingly more than that and ahead of its time in terms of game design. Instead of just playing each level, back-to-back, there’s a surprising amount of backtracking, and even a few (questionable) moments of metroidvania. Your quest is to collect six artifacts, but you’ll need various upgrades to navigate each level. Some levels have multiple exits, and while you can reach one on your first playthrough, you’ll often need to replay levels with better abilities to get around obstacles and find alternate exits. I was really surprised when I found out that it has global progression and an overworld that lets you revisit old locations. It’s just something a lot of old games, especially first-person shooters, didn’t do. It also has an awesome level design, with plenty of secrets to uncover.

PowerSlave Unearthed Still looks and plays like an old game, but the Kex engine port brings many modern features such as widescreen support, achievements, mouse look, gamepad support graphics and modern graphics API support. This definitive edition of PowerSlave also mixes the PlayStation and Saturn versions, but also changes a lot of things. Even the title is a mix between the North American and European versions, which is called PowerSlave in the United States, but exhumed abroad.

Screenshot: Unearthed PowerSlave

Yet, even though PowerSlave Unearthed has a lot of modern features, and it was ahead of its time, its modern accessibility doesn’t necessarily make it appealing to a contemporary audience. You’re still fighting sprite-based enemies in what looks a lot like the build engine. i’m just happy that PowerSlave Unearthed exists so that it is accessible to those who do not have access to older media and hardware.

Powerslave exhumed is another brilliant update from Night Dive Studios. This Kex motor port is the definitive version of the classic PowerSlave, and it even manages to be surprisingly fun and impressive for a retro shooter. If you want a bit of nostalgia, or to discover an upgraded hidden gem, PowerSlave Unearthed is easy to recommend.

PowerSlave Unearthed is available today on PC via Steam and on Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S|X and PlayStation 4 and 5.

A Steam key was provided to us for the purposes of this review.