Excessive Trim is a bizarre game. Intentionally so, as developers Panda Indie Studio have leaned into the weirdness with aplomb. For all intents and purposes it’s a 2D scrolling shoot-’em-up, but as you’ll learn in this Excessive Trim review, a healthy appetite of ripping away the expected mechanics and replacing them with something different has lead to an innovative change of pace for the genre.

The game can be confusing at first, and there’s no tutorial to ease you in. Using the simple three-colour palette, you play as an alien attacking the Earth. However, you have no weaponry to speak of. No guns, bombs or lasers. This isn’t Laserpitium or Z-Warp. Instead, you have a a circular blade rotating around your ship which you can use to cut down enemies. And cows.

Excessive Trim screenshot

You can’t simply move into enemies to annihilate them. Instead, you must dash at them to activate your blade. Of course, your dash maneuver is decidedly limited. You must navigate between enemies and obstacles as you await your cooldown so you may strike again. The randomly generated levels will throw all sorts of nonsense at you. Rows of tractors, farmers, apocalypse protesters, and cows. You’ll have to hold your nerve under considerable pressure from the very first level as you’re awaiting that recharge – especially as it’s not immediately clear what will hurt you and what won’t.

As you progress you will occasionally find the ‘weird store’. Here, you can chose one of two random upgrades. These can improve your movement speed, dash move recharge, the size of your blade or grant you additional health. Given the aggressive nature of the game, they’ll be a welcome sight every time. This isn’t a roguelite however. These bonuses do not last between runs. And this is where Excessive Trim suffers the most.

In old school fashion, there is no save data in Excessive Trim. There are no continues, and no overlap between runs whatsoever. It’s simply a case of a few minutes at the helm, score as high as you can before dying, then try again. It’s a game that harks back to a much simpler time. A time when we’d be buying games on cassette, waiting two hours for them to load and hoping that they don’t crash during the process. All that complexity is of course replaced by the modern accessibility of PC and console gaming,. but the frequently brutal difficulty is not.

Excessive Trim screenshot

If your first few games of Excessive Trim last more than a minute, you’re a pretty skilled gamer. Eventually, you’ll build up your runs to the point of achieving double figures on the level tally, and it’s great fun in doing so. But then what? Well, nothing. This Excessive Trim review was written with a great deal of fun and enjoyment, but also ready to call it a day within only a few hours. The game offers an innovative approach to the genre – of that there’s no doubt – but the shine fades pretty quickly when you realise there’s little more to do than replay the same experience over and over again.

Categories: Games