Thanks to XSEED GAMES for the review code
Title: Exile’s End
System: Playstation Vita/TV
Release Date: 10/25/2016
One of the leaders of a major company goes while visiting a mining colony. As a member of the company, you and your crew set out, only to get attacked on the way and crash land on the alien planet. Now its up to you and you alone to explore the mining colony to find answers to the leader’s disappearance. It’s a very generic story and outside of a few cutscenes here and there it’s barely mentioned in game, making it pretty forgettable.
Exile’s End takes inspirations from cinematic platformers like Another World, with the occasional cutscenes that pop up from time to time, decent spritework and the minimalistic soundtrack. Unfortunately there’s little else to talk about outside of these inspirations, which is a bit of a shame considering how some industry veterans helped out with this title.
Being a metroidvania title, the usual traits of the genre can be found here, from hidden items, upgrades, multiple paths and a lot of exploration. Exile’s End tries its hardest to stand out from the genre norms though, by combining some elements of cinematic platformers at the very beginning of the game. During the first hour or so, you’ll have to be extremely careful with your jumps, as jumping from a high height will instantly kill you until you get a specific upgrade. However the upgrade doesn’t make the cinematic references go away, as you’ll still be without a good weapon to defend yourself from powerful enemies. It won’t be until the end of the first major dungeon that you’ll find a firearm to protect yourself with. Unfortunately, the game’s problems become incredibly obvious from this point on.
For starters, a lot of rooms tend to have blind leaps of faith. In the beginning of the game this can be a nightmare of trial and error due to instant death, but after the upgrade you’d think you wouldn’t have to deal with that anymore. Sadly the game proves you wrong with rooms with instant death spikes or powerful enemies at the bottom, meaning that there’s still a ton of dumb trial and error despite there being no reason for it.
Another big flaw comes from the health system. You have a VERY limited amount of life points and outside of rare health drops from defeated enemies or hidden first-aid kits, you won’t be able to restore your health. Considering how the game autosaves anytime you activate a screen transition, it’s very easy to walk into a room filled with enemies with barely any health remaining and constantly die because of the inability to take more than one hit.
One time while continuing from a room in the first dungeon, I spawned on top of an enemy, causing me to die the second I loaded my save file due to me having low health. If it wasn’t for the fact that I held right on the D-Pad as soon as I reloaded again, I could have easily been in an impossible state, and sadly this wasn’t the only time the autosave feature almost ruined my playthrough. Cheap enemy placement is all over the place in this game, and what should be a gradual progression of difficulty turns into a cheap, unfair mess that doesn’t do the game any favors.
In conclusion, Exile’s End is a mess. What could have been a great metroidvania with a unique twist is hampered by a poor autosave system, cheap enemy placement and a lot of dumb luck. Exile’s End isn’t the hardest game in the world, nor is it the longest, but it’s just not designed that well. There is a survival mode that focuses on the solid combat system, but it’s only a minor time attack mode and doesn’t make up for the fact that the main game is just not that fun to play. I give Exile’s End a 4 out of 10, and I honestly can’t recommend this except for metroidvania fans wanting a hardcore challenge, even one that isn’t always fair.