Can this metroidvania greatest-hits title hit a home run? Or will it be exiled to the end of the line? Let’s find out in this review of Exile’s End for PS Vita and PSTV.
I love platformers, that’s just a fact. That’s what I grew up on. Magnetic Realms’ entry into the genre seems like a match made in heaven to this MS-DOS-using gamer. But not all is rosey in the land of exploration.
The story itself is pretty bare-bones, but that is a pretty normal affair in the genre. Ship crash-lands on a planet, we need to find the crew, etc. While I appreciate the obvious nods to the classics, I would have loved a bit more creativity in the storytelling.
But this type of game is all about the exploration, really, and that’s where Exile’s End really comes into its own.
There is plenty to see here and plenty to do, with vast levels that we must, in true metroidvania style, traverse once or twice or more. I always admire the level design in metroidvania games, as most require that they work both forward and back. That’s a pretty big feat to accomplish, and one that Exile’s End accomplishes quite well.
Sadly, it does resort to pretty bland design choices to do so sometimes, and cheap deaths are not uncommon. There is more that could have been done on the platforming side to complement the excellent exploration aspect of the game, and getting rid of the cheap deaths would have helped the game along, too (much like getting rid of jump scares will make most horror films better).
Another thing that is not quite up to snuff are the controls. They are just a bit too spongey and not precise enough for those long, pixel-perfect jumps that you sometimes need. The physics are also a bit odd, with running specifically a bit on the weird side.
But enough of downers! There’s plenty to like in the game as well. It looks quite good, with art very reminiscent of early 90’s DOS classics (in a good way). It sounds great, too, though sound effects and music are very minimal.
To me, the highlight of the game is the engine’s smoothness (it runs beautifully well) and the cutscene art. There are some quite beautiful pieces here and that is nothing to sniff at when it comes to a small, indie production.
All in all, Exile’s End is a story of unfulfilled potential for me. There are great bones here to make a fantastic game. Definitely could have been a Shovel Knight contender (with a much different tone). But in the end (no pun intended), the reality is that everything feels pretty average, with the exception of the art, which is fantastic.
Exile’s End will not bring any new fans to the genre, but it’s a perfectly serviceable metroidvania platformer-explorer that will satiate the DOS needs of those who grew up in the 90s. Just don’t expect it to bring anything new to the table. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
- Title: Exile’s End
- Publisher: XSEED/Marvelous
- Developer: Magnetic Realms
- Format: PSN Download
- Size on Card: 95.6mb