Developer: Magnetic Realms
Publisher: Marvelous, Xseed
Remember your Amiga or Commodore 64? If not, Exile’s End aims to bring those memories back. Talented folks who were also involved with the creation of classics such as Secret of Mana and Mother 3 play a huge part in bringing the retro style to life; they have even compared it to other classics such as Flashback and Another World. Exile’s End was made in such a way that it could have possibly been a part of your collection back in the day, but would it really?
In Exile’s End, players will spend their time fighting against extra terrestrial lifeforms using a variety of guns, grenades, and tools. Players will find dead bodies of fallen allies in the first area, one in particular that is being eaten by a four-legged creature. Blood does appear on a few occasions, but when an enemy is defeated they simply explode and leave item pick-ups behind. There is mention of a sacred ritual in which a sacrifice is required to completely stop the evil forces on the planet.
I crash landed in a forest-like area, with no weapons or energy to power my suit. As I discovered a fallen ally in the distance, my first task was to get to him. There were a series of platforms i had to jump across to get there, but without energy for my suit I felt damage from every single drop without height making a difference. Eventually every jump resulted in death, with my health the same as it was when I entered the area every time I reloaded the checkpoint. Many of those deaths were blind jumps onto platforms below me. It wasn’t until very late in the game that I discovered I could look up and down at my surroundings. I eventually made it through, but that was one of the most frustrating experiences I have ever had in a video game.
Things improved when I finally acquired the needed energy and a weapon. Most of the enemies are pretty easy to defeat when I learned their patterns, except for the pesky flying creatures which I found annoying in some cases. I would say the same for the bosses as well, as it is very easy to just launch and throw a barrage of explosives at them until their defeat. Every time I would start to enjoy myself, I would later end up stuck without a hint on what to do, but thanks to an active steam community and a Youtuber’s Let’s Play video, I was able to finish the game. Do not expect to have your hand held at all, much like playing the original Metroid back in the day.
Like any typical Metroidvania style video game, you will be looking for a particular weapon or tool that will help you progress at some point in the future. You do have a small arsenal of weapons to take on the alien creatures which include a basic handgun, SMG, a few alien weapons, and a variety explosives. I found myself mostly sticking to the handgun and SMG due to the fact that the alien weapons either require health or energy for ammo. Enemies drop health, ammo, and energy when defeated. The good thing is that when I ran out of ammo on a particular weapon I would quickly pick up more; if I was low on health, I would exit and re-enter rooms to kill enemies in hopes for a health drop. Farming health pick-ups definitely helped me get through some of the tougher rooms.
If you need a break from the main story, there is survival mode. The basic objective is to kill all enemies in a room within the time limit. With each kill you gain a bit more time on the clock, and after completing an area you get the opportunity to purchase weapons and items with currency. This mode was a nice break when I was having a difficult time in the main story. This mode brings out the potential for some replayability in you are into that time attack-style of gameplay.
The plot is pretty much forgettable, largely due to the chaos of level design and enemy placement. Best thing going for this indie title is the presentation: it takes me back to those moments I sat in front of my television with my Super Nintendo. The audio and soundtrack do well in capturing that, but it wasn’t until I played with some headphones one night and noticed how great the sound quality is in general. It is great to see Keiji Yamagishi’s name attached to this project, the man responsible for the unforgettable tunes of Tecmo Bowl. The art created for the cutscenes also does well in capturing the retro presentation, straight from the minds of talented developers that were had a hand in creating some of our favorite video games. I would love to see some major developers collaborate with indie projects more often in this regard.
I have found Exile’s End to be a strange case. It has it’s ups and downs I don’t absolutely love but I don’t absolutely hate it either. There are probably almost one hundred other great indie titles that I would likely recommend first, but ten bucks is not a bad price tag for this one, either. In the end, I was glad to find out that the whole game wasn’t bogged down by that first segment that I had trouble with in the beginning. There are really much worse Triple-A titles you could be playing, and this one is only about five hours long. At such a short length, trophy/achievement hunters may want to run through at least once.
Review copy provided by Xseed
The Bottom Line
Exile's End is sort of a mixed bag. Magnetic Realms nailed the retro inspiration and metroidvania format, but a few choices in the level design keep it from being something great.