De-Exit: External Matters Looks Like My Next Indie Horror Obsession

I’m always keeping an eye out for small horror games, projects made by small teams that may not get the support they should. When publisher Handy Games invited us to check out a few, I was all in. Specifically, I wanted to know about the surprise game they said would be there. Thankfully I got something I never knew I wanted but absolutely need now. We were shown the newly revealed De-Exit: External Matters, and it looked fantastic.

The simplest explanation is that De-Exit is a cinematic platformer with some stealth elements and puzzle gameplay that’s inspired by games like Journey and Arise: A Simple Story. It also uses a voxel-heavy art style that sort of makes it look like a more extreme version of Minecraft. This doesn’t mean that it’s a crafting game though, or that you’ll be tearing apart the world and putting it back together. Well, at least not physically. Emotionally maybe another story.

You play as a skeleton, whom the developers called De, that has just arrived in the Plane of Memory. You see, when someone dies they go here and remain until the last person on Earth forgets about them. Or, normally, that’s how it works. When De arrives they find the place is abandoned and broken. Chunks of the world have been taken over by some dark goo that, if De steps in, causes them to hear screaming before they fade away into nothing. Also, the place is totally abandoned. De has to find out why.

We got to see some early gameplay here, with De navigating the world of De-Exit. Some early platforming shows De climbing on vines to get across a gap, and doing dramatic jumps from one pillar to the next. In a way, it reminded me of the rather popular Uncharted series, with some cinematic camera angels that really got you in the action. Shortly after, De also had to move some boxes around to power up some platforms to make more jumps. It’s simple but effective puzzle solving.

Upon completing this, De got to meet their first friend in this world. Asem is one of the nine guardians that is supposed to protect the world in case of, you know, this exact situation. Unfortunately, Asem appears to also be the only guardian left, and they don’t appear to be doing too well. From them, De gets The Light Eye, a tool that will help them navigate the world. How? Well, The Light Eye serves as a flashlight in dark spaces and can be used to power up certain objects in the game world. More importantly, it also reveals monsters.

Yes, monsters. The world of De-Exit is populated by these invisible monsters that want nothing more than to kill De. You have no way to defend yourself against these monsters other than hiding and running. You also can’t see them normally, barring them entering tall grass and pushing it aside. Thankfully, if you sign The Light Eye on the monsters then they’ll be revealed, and even stunned, giving you a few seconds to get away from them. You do have to be careful though: shine The Light Eye around them for too long and they’ll become aware of your presence. While there was no combat in the demo, the developers did note that you may get ways to fight these monsters later in the game.

This stealth segment was pretty fast-paced and high-intensity, leading to a very solid situation that, in any other demo, I would expect to be the end of the show. However, De-Exit had one more very cool segment to show, and it started by introducing us to Daniel. Daniel appears to serve as the game’s main antagonist, a dramatic megalomaniac that appears to be the cause of all the destruction in the Plane of Memory. He gives a big villain speech, as expected. Then he turns into a giant skeleton.

What follows is a chase scene out of some of my favorite classic platformers. De runs towards the camera while dodging swipes, ground slams, and crumbling bridges. The camera angel changed twice during this scene, once to the side to make it temporarily a 2.5d platformer, and then to De’s back so you can see the portal you’re running towards. It was dramatic and awesome, a segment that I am excited to play myself. It ended with a series of quick-time events that felt a little old-fashioned but had De doing some fun cinematic moves that the regular gameplay probably couldn’t manage.

The demo ended with De sinking into the sea, and the reveal that it was the end of the prologue segment. The developers did note that their plan was for De-Exit to be five chapters plus the prologue, which should take about four to five hours to finish. If this was only the start of the game then I absolutely can’t wait to see what else it has in store for me. This preview was enough to really excite me and get me wanting more.

If all of this sounds like a good time to you, you can keep an eye on Dread XP to learn more about De-Exit: External Matters. The game is currently targeting a PC release sometime in 2022.