Exile’s End is a Metroidvania-esque game (I say this, as the developers HEAVILY stress that Exile’s End is NOT a Metroidvania game) heavily inspired by Japanese 80’s and 90’s videogames, Metroid and action-adventure platformers as a whole; Exile’s End recently released for PS4 after a year-long release on Steam – So, how does Exile’s End hold up? Does it match the experience given from Commadore / Amiga action-adventure games? Let’s find out, shall we?
The first half-an-hour of Exile’s End is, admittedly, some of the worst I’ve ever seen in an action platformer; you’re tasked with investigating the surrounding forestry after crash landing from your ship, having to find some of your comrades in order to gain some form of semblance of the workings of the strange planet you’ve found yourself on…With fall damage in check, no weaponry to defend yourself with, the same environments over and over again, and only snakes to impede your path, Exile’s End’s first 30 minutes don’t bode well…
…However, once you begin to upgrade your suit, get your weapons and things like Double Jump and start to face some of the variety on offer, that’s when Exile’s End becomes a whole new beast. First of all let me just say that this game is incredibly similar to Metroid – There are no shops, nor currency; every item you need is dropped by enemies, and to be honest I prefer this system compared to what you may find in games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Upgrades too are simply found out in the wilderness, either through story means or by defeating a boss or two.
The weaponry you can utilise too is varied and interesting enough to keep you captivated, with a wide array of pistols, submachine guns, grenades and rocket launchers on offer to slay the alien threats – It’s by no means on par with other action adventure titles, but it is just enough to keep you wanting more. The same can be said about the variety of enemies on show too – Within the first few hours you’ll encounter chemically damaged zombies, lizardmen, plant-like monsters, eyeless fanged beasts, flying drone-like demons and…Lots…And lots….Of snakes…
It’s regardless to say that Indiana Jones would be bloody terrified of this game.
This sadly sums up pretty much most of the enemies that you’d expect to encounter; I’d love to see a bit more variety within Exile’s End, and I feel that the developers over at Magnetic Realms should really try to find new ways to introduce more into the game.
Given this, however, Magnetic Realms have since added a “Survival Mode”, which I put in parenthesis due to it not being a true Survival Mode, but rather more of a Stage Rush mode, where players have to navigate randomly generated areas, kill all enemies on the level, and bolt it to the exit against an ever-impending countdown; similar to a checkpoint system in a game like Burnout, killing enemies grants you more time on your countdown, allowing you to navigate more and find more weaponry.
However, when you boil down the game to it’s core concepts, all Exile’s End is, is nothing more than just another Metroidvania game, despite the developers’ wishes to distance themselves away from the phrase as if it were a curse – The parallels to a game like Metroid are all too apparent, from the weaponry, abilities, stage design and even overall aesthetic. Cutscenes do help to break up some of the stagnation, being fully animated pieces of sprite work, looking incredibly crisp on my modern TV…But to be honest, it’s just…Alright.
The sound and audio design is nothing to write home about, as is the level or enemy variety. Most of the weapons feel identical, as do the environments and upgrades, and it all fuses together into a wishy-washy blend of mediocrity. I wanted to love Exile’s End, but the hard, honest truth is that I’ve played so many other titles like it that are so much better. Exile’s End’s main issue is that it doesn’t do enough to stand out, to shake up the formula, or to be different. It tries too hard to say it’s different to Metroid…But in the end all they did was make it into the same thing they wanted to drift away from.
For these reasons, I would rate Exile’s End with a final score of 5 / 10.