Exile's End is a lot of things, but one thing that it is not is unique. That is not necessarily a bad thing. That's because Exile's End is clearly meant to be an homage to the classic 2D game we played as kids. While I am hesitant to use the phrase “Metroidvania” because, among reasons like being told not to on the game's Steam page, I just hate the term. Metroidvania is to 2D sidescrollers what “The Dark Souls of ...” is to literally every other game in existence, but the inspiration is clearly there.
While the game was developed by an Australian studio by the name of Magnetic Realms, the game's art, music, and cutscenes were all done by Japanese veterans, including Keiji Yamagishi working on the game's music, who is one of my favorite musicians in POUS, the studio behind Half Minute Hero. The art was done by artists who have worked on Mother 3 and Secret of Mana, among others. You can tell that they purposely hired these veterans to create a game that was a love letter to the games of yesterday. I, for one, really appreciate that, and if they were trying to go for Japanese authenticity and style, well, they hit the nail on the head.
Exile's End is a 2D sidescroller where you play as a soldier who was sent to investigate a mining colony after Earth had lost contact with it. It has been about twenty-eight days since the last transmission reached Earth and you're being sent to investigate what happened to the mining crew. Unfortunately, before you can even reach the planet, the ship your team is traveling on suffers a catastrophic systems failure that leads to most of the crew dying and only a handful of them reaching the planet. The game is chalk-full of 2D goodness that requires the player to be both smart and quick on their feet to survive. While the game is not very long, it does come with a nice ten dollar price tag. There is a lot of replayability here because the game is short, but challenging—sometimes extremely so.
When you die, you return to the main menu, which is both a blessing and a curse. It's annoying because that is just a lot of time between lives; you die, you return to the main menu, and continue—it's a fifteen second process. But, the bonus to this process is the fact that there are no lives. When you die, you go back to the main menu and start off in the same section you died in. All you have is the ability to go back and try to do better next time. Sadly, this does lead to a problem where you will enter a zone with low hp, die, and still have low HP when you start. This resulted in several instances where I was forced to reset the game completely, which is not too big of a deal because it is rather short.
All-in-all for only ten dollars, Exile's End is a pretty good purchase for someone looking for a modern approach to classic games. For fans looking for a break from their 1080p, 60FPS, or 4K TVs, Exile's End may be right up your alley.
Honestly, the soundtrack of this game alone makes Exile's End worth checking out, but it's also paired with a decent game.