Developer: Bare Mettle Entertainment
I've been watching Game of Thrones recently, and one of the many things the show does so well is nailing that brutal, heavy, messy medieval combat. Not many games do, but Exanima isn't like many other games. A low-fantasy dungeon crawler, it uses the wonders of physics to turn melee combat into a gorgeous slugfest of glancing blows, crushing strikes, and smart positioning.
Using the mouse, you control the angle and speed of your swings, feints, and parries. A fast step forward can add extra power to your attack or evade an enemy's blow to open them up for a counter. With the double-click of the left mouse, you can bring your weapon down in a devastating downward strike that could end a fight in seconds, while the Alt key performs a piercing thrust. Every animation is defined by physics and momentum and your own movement, from careful jabs to whistling hammer swings that can knock your foe to the ground.
Glancing blows, stumbles, weapons rebounding off shields and walls, and other physics-driven maneuvers makes Exanima's clashes feel messy and unpredictable and desperate, less like trading attacks in a fighting game and more like steel-edged street fight. You can hone your skills in the arena mode, hiring NPC combatants, engaging in fist fights and multi-enemy elimination rounds, and gaining money to buy better weapons and armor. Or you can embark into the dim torch-lit dungeons and face skeletons and hulking beasts lurking behind closed doors and dark shadows.
Exanima is available on Steam and GOG,