- Title: Exile’s End
- Publisher: XSEED Games
- Platform: PlayStation 4/PSVita/Wii U (download-only)
- Release Date: October 25
There’s something about retro-themed games that never really goes out of style; whether it’s a true old-school classic, or something new done in a way that reminds us of the past. Maybe it’s the sense of nostalgia they provide, or maybe it’s the fact that they generally have fairly simple game mechanics that are easy to learn but take time and dedication to master, but there’s an art to finding the delicate balance between blandly simple, enticingly challenging, and frustratingly difficult. And to be perfectly honest, Exile’s End does a nice job finding the midway point on that scale.
First and foremost, the game starts in a method similar to early MegaMan and Metroid games, in that there’s very little introduction, and next to no control tutorial. Unlike its predecessors however, you start the game with nothing other than your ability to run and jump. This remain unchanged for at least the first twenty minutes of gameplay, the changing point being when I was granted a rock to throw. Well, two rocks, to be precise. About 10 minutes later, I found my first power up; a device that made it so that I no longer took damage from falls greater than the height of my own natural jump (and yes, prior to this point, if I jumped up high enough, I took damage. But we’ll get to flaws later). Finally though, after numerous jumps and falls and jumps and falls and wandering the wrong way into nests of enemies, I found my first weapon of the game. And trust me, there is no greater feeling than being able to shoot things after having to spend the first hour or so of a game avoiding EVERYTHING. Eventually, the rate of obtaining items speeds up, and the platforming almost becomes somewhat rhythmic, if not overly repetitive. Every now and then, the monotony is broken up by a new type of enemy or new game mechanic, or the introduction of an new type of weapon, and the passage of time becomes less obvious.
Overall, I think it’s fair to say that EE has more good points than bad, and that it certainly makes for an entertaining experience. On the plus side, it fully satisfies my itch for the return of retro style games while still being an original game in and of itself. There’s a decent variety of weapons and enemies, and new platforming obstacles are introduced at a comfortable pace. On the down side, the beginning of the game feels painfully lethargic, and the fact that the game auto-saves every time you enter a room can lead to some nearly impossible encounters if you’re low on health and ammo.
Despite my initial issues with the game, it was a fun experience once I got used to the mechanics and pacing, and the twisting plot (along with multiple endings for those of you that like replay-ability) ensures that the story being told is an engaging one. All in all, I give this game a firm 7.5/10.