A mercenary walks onto a crowded planet…
Out of this World and Flashback were some extremely impressive and downright hard games for me as a child. I eventually finished both of them because they invited me into worlds in a way most games had yet to do at the time. Both featured cinematic animated scenes and had more set piece-like moments than usual for their time. They were very memorable for me, and both had a sci-fi spin to them. Now take the style of those games, throw in some classic Metroid and that’s pretty much Exile’s End in a nutshell.
Players take control of Jameson, a soldier, working with a group of others on a mission for what? I’m not quite sure. There are hints of what’s transpiring, but the remainder of the story comes from files found and other cut scenes later. It does start with a small debriefing and mention of rescuing a missing person. Soon the ship is attacked and everyone is rushed to escape pods. This begins the player’s journey, and my initial gut reaction to the graphics was classic SNES style feels. Those very games I mention earlier in the review are exactly the sort of style Exile’s End is presenting, and I loved the feeling going into this.
Price I’d Pay: $6.99
Visually it’s got a very old style look with limited animations and effects, but it’s clear that this is meant to invoke the older genre of games before it, as it even has a filter to make it look even more retro than it already does. The soundtrack does a good job of changing up between the different areas that are explored, and as players progress, they find and unlock new weapons and special items.
The sense of exploration is high here, as it’s necessary in progressing forward, so much that the game never explicitly points players in the direction to go, so with that comes a bit of backtracking and frustration. The story line gives out details on what the overall plot is moving forward, but I don’t believe there is any screen to track what the main objective is outside these cut scenes, at least not that I could find. This, combined with the fact that there isn’t a solid way of knowing if I’m going in the right direction, leads to confusion. It might say in a cut scene that it’s necessary to go further in the mine, but hell if I would know what they are talking about.
It gets a bit worse too, and I feel a lot of players won’t make it very far in the opening 30 or so minutes. The player is dumped into the world with no weapons, and the only way to avoid enemies at the start is to run away or jump over them. Expect lots and lots of slugs. Health is also fairly limited, and healing at this point requires finding very limited healing kits that don’t restock once grabbed. Once a gun is found, which takes quite a while, things get a bit easier, as enemies drop health and crystal energy to use. Even more weapons are found, like grenades and submachine guns. At this point I was relieved, because the game had been a bit of a bore and slow.
Exile or Bust
I was extremely disappointed at the starting hour or so of this game, but I pushed through and was rewarded for it. The game began to open up, with more abilities earned, and weapons I could actually fight back with. Before it was just too limited, and I think pacing wise, having the first gun from the start would have been a much better experience overall. Also, the areas of radiation killed me so quickly, and it doesn’t help when the game reloads me back into the area only to die again if I’m not preemptively pushing to move back where I came. It’s a bit fast and downright cruel that the game doesn’t load players in the area beforehand.
For the price of entry and the type of game Exiles End is worth a look from fans of the genre. It’s got decent atmosphere, controls fairly well, and provides some fun exploration and fighting. It’s just not nearly as good as those that came before it, take it or leave it. I want to like the game more than I do, but getting endlessly lost, questioning my progression, and the weak start left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.
Favorite moment: Finding a gun… it took long enough. After that things were mostly better.
Worst moment: The pacing, lack of enemies, weapons at the start.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.