Exile's End Review
Extra Features: Leaderboards
Exile's End is a 2D side-scrolling adventure game developed by Magnetic Realms. The game has an overall art style and world similar to Flashback: The Quest for Identity and it plays similar to a Metroid game. You take control of Jameson, a mercenary on a team of mercenaries that have been assigned to find the son of the Ravenwood Mining Corporation president that has gone missing on a local mining colony where contact has been lost. As your team arrives, an electric failure causes the your ship to crash land on the planet and you take control of Jameson and must try to reopen communication and find the target.
The game is very close to a Metroid game in the overall way it plays. You start out with absolutely nothing and must find everything while running and platforming your way through a hostile environment. Strangely enough, you must find an upgrade to keep your character from taking fall damage from high falls very early in the game. The early areas of the game are loaded with platforming segments and enemies that you must hop over to keep from taking damage. Once you get your gun, which has unlimited ammo, the game picks up a lot more with more frequent enemy encounters and overall more action.
While exploring the environment, you'll be able to pull up a map that is very similar to the Metroid and Castlevania style maps that fills out as you move through each room. The map shows doors on it and you can easily see unexplored areas through areas that aren't filled out on the map. Sadly, the map doesn't list out areas of interest, such as toxic areas or locked doors that you can't get past early in the game so you can't tell what items are needed for certain areas. There is no way to customize the map with markers or anything similar.
Besides the normal handgun, you'll gain access to a submachine gun and three different type of energy guns. You can also toss grenades for some massive damage and the explosions can be used to destroy weak walls. Your suit functions as armor and takes power from the energy meter each time you get hit and power is also taken whenever you use an energy weapon. While exploring, you'll gain a variety of upgrades for your armor along with other enhancements, such as a double jump. The actual jumping in the game feels imprecise at times giving it an overall clunky feel. The main character feels like he falls too fast when in the air.
You'll be exploring forest areas, laboratories, ancient temples, mines and many other locations. The enemy variety are all alien enemies of many different forms. You'll start out fighting infected marines and eventually be fighting flying creatures and other types of aliens. Each enemy has a different style of attack that you'll need to learn to avoid. Exile's End has a big problem with the combat getting repetitive from the same type of enemy being spammed through the areas. Toward the end of the game I was literally just beasting my way through rooms and allowing myself to get hit from being so sick of the combat - I also knew that I would get power-ups to restore my health from random drops. The game has around five bosses in it that range from stupid easy to a decent challenge. No boss can stand up to grenade spam for long, so tossing grenades will heavily damage a boss and basically win the battle for you. I found it kind of hilarious that some boss enemies burn up just like bosses in Castlevania games.
The story is told through text dialogue (without voice acting) and animated cutscenes. The way the game tells the story is actually a great nod to older cinematic games like Flashback and other 16-bit games. The presentation of the story really got me hooked from the start, but the story never does really go anywhere once you get about halfway through it. A new character is introduced later on that looks to be straight out of a HP Lovecraft novel. The main character looks boring and he never did become interesting to me. The soundtrack to the game is really nice with some tunes that truly stand out.
The game has two endings to it, so there is a bit of reason for replay along with collecting all items in the game. It took me around 6 hours to complete. Just like Metroid, the game has a certain percentage of items and upgrade to find. Along with the normal mode, the game has a hard mode, survival mode and a speed run mode. The survival mode starts out rather fun then gets boring from fighting through all the same enemies over and over, room after room. You start out with a timer and gain extra time per enemy killed. You'll gain points per kill and gain more points for chaining kills within a certain time limit. In between stages, you can use your points to buy ammo, weapons and upgrades to help during the next stage. Exile's End starts out promising, but the flaws bring it down to being a mediocre experience overall.
+ Good soundtrack
+ The retro style for cutscenes and dialogue is fitting
+ Decent replay value with 100% item collection and survival mode
- In-game map could be more helpful
- Combat and enemies get repetitive
- Jumping feels clunky
Final Rating: 68% - Exile's End starts out as a promising Metroid-style game with nods to older cinematic action games, but eventually turns into an overall mediocre experience.