- Exile (1988 on BBC Micro, Electron, 1991 on Amiga...)
After Sadler defeated the Caliph, he returned to his home village, greeted by his fellow assassins. A spy of the Crusaders has been spotted outside of the village; following his trail, Sadler encounters the powerful leader of the Knights Templar. Travelling together to different countries of the world, they try to find a mysterious holy artifact that can supposedly put an end to the religious wars.
Exile is a sequel to XZR. Like its predecessor, it is an action role-playing game with platforming elements, set in a fictionalized version of the Middle East and other world regions in 13th century. Travel and exploration occur in the traditional overhead view of RPGs, while the battles and dungeons are side-scrolling mazes, similar to Wanderers from Ys. Experience points are awarded for defeating enemies. Leveling-up automatically raises Sadler's attributes. Sadler fights with swords and can also cast offensive and restorative spells. Weapons, armor and items can be bought and sold in towns.
- エグザイル〜時の狭間へ〜 - Japanese console spelling
Credits (MSX version)
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Average score: 66% (based on 12 ratings)
Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 21 ratings with 2 reviews)
The graphics: generally, the sprites are large and look good (at least when standing still). All in all, it looks better than Ys 3.
The music: I like the music better than the sound effects. It's not grating or too loud. It's pleasant, if not memorable.
Too linear: Okay, I admit I normally can't say this, but I found myself figuring out step by step exactly what I needed to do to complete an area within two seconds of learning the problem. Unfortunately, the programmers want you to do things to unlock your ability to perform these simple steps. An early stage involves having to find a sheep and to figure out how to reflect light onto a stone tablet. Found the sheep before I even entered the stage, and it had something in its mouth, which I knew was probably the reflector. But it won't let go of it. I mean, I'm supposed to be this great warrior, but I can't force a sheep to give me something that I need to rescue one of my NPCs? Not until I go through the motions as set out by the programmers, the performance of which does not give me one iota of gratification--no reward, no experience points, no bromide, no character revelations.
Gameplay: I love side-scrolling hack and slash games. I love Castlevania, Magic Sword, Golden Axe, TMNT the Arcade Game, Actraiser, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, etc. But they all have complex gameplay and good mechanics. In Exile, you swing the sword, jump, kneel, or you can jump and swing or kneel and swing. If you hold the button, you swing continuously, even without a turbo joystick. You also have magic, which either heals you or gives your sword a small projectile.
NPCs: Okay, now this is really irksome. Before you leave on your first mission--make that, before you CAN EVEN leave on your first mission--you have to talk to every body in the town. Seriously. Because two of those non-descript sprites are going to join your mission after you talk to the guy who sends you off on your mission. You can't leave until you pick them up, so they must be important, right? Nope. These two guys do nothing between the time you pick them up and the time you send them to guard somebody's base a few levels later. And the girl who starts the quest with you is apparently only there to be kidnapped after the other two guys leave.
The Bottom Line
If you prefer Zelda 2 or Ys III: Wanderers from Ys over Final Fantasy, then you're the minority that might really enjoy this game.
Genesis · by Kevin Johnson (100) · 2004
Once upon a time, there was a weird game called XZR. It was set (mostly) in the 12th century, focusing on the Middle East, and presented a convoluted account of political events with a controversial view of world religions. Shia Muslim assassin as a protagonist, evil supernatural deities, inexplicable time-traveling, meddling with the Cold War, and general Japanese chaos ensued in almost every chapter of that bizarre adventure. Suffice to say that if you enjoyed all that, its sequel Exile delivers a nearly identical experience, only somewhat more polished, without aggravating semi-dead ends, and (in case of the TurboGrafx CD version) with voiced cutscenes.
Like in the first game, you take control of the improbably anime-esque Syrian killer with a cigarette dangled between his lips. Once again, you'll go around the known world like a merry whirlwind, shifting between Jerusalem, Ayodhya, Croton, and other interesting places, enjoying the views and hacking at historical figures and mythological creatures on the way. Once again, organized religion is what makes our world so bad (the Japanese just love finding simple solutions to complicated problems, don't they?), and hatred between human brothers can only be stopped by timing platform jumps and slashing mythological creatures. Realistic depiction of the Earth as it was in the 12th century? Very, very far from it. A moderately fun romp through imaginative locales accompanied by unconventional plot themes? Absolutely!
Gameplay-wise, Exile is a rare representative of a platformer RPG. If you click here you will see just how exactly rare it is. Exile deserves credit for simply being what it is. You will jump, duck, and generally try to outmaneuver pesky respawning enemies. You will try to find a safe spot to avoid ranged boss attacks, and calculate a good angle to launch your deadly flame magic. You will also patiently level up, rejoicing at the sight of your HP increasing just because you have slain 41 giant beetles and not just 40.
The game is fast-paced, and keeps changing locations all the time. While this does disrupt somewhat the coherence of the narrative and stylistic unity, it's very refreshing to explore Cambodian temples with elephant-headed enemies a short while after battling floating hooded druid spellcasters in ornate churches.
If you want to play the game in English, this is the only suitable version, since the Genesis translation was butchered beyond recognition. The TurboGrafx CD release corrupts most historical and geographical names, but at least they can be easily associated with their real-world prototypes. Working Designs also did a good job at tweaking the game's difficulty to the point of making some boss battles a tiny bit more challenging. Yes, the rumors of "dumbing down" the US release are completely contrary to the truth.
With all this in mind, don't expect Exile to be an action RPG masterpiece or even an involving piece of video game storytelling. Like many hybrids, the game is unsure of itself, not quite knowing what exactly it wants to be. RPG aspects, for example, are woefully underdeveloped, with very modest customization options, a few strange decisions (why can't you find weapons and armor in dungeons?) and a rough linearity that forces you to go through the game in one single pre-determined fashion. Geographical areas are way too small and are constantly switched on a whim just when you begin to enjoy exploring them. Once you are teleported to another area there is no way back; suddenly finding yourself in India seconds after having defeated a druid leader in France can be jarring. The actual platforming sections are monotonous mazes with barely anything interesting to discover.
Platforming itself feels stiff and unrewarding, and turns into a plain nuisance once you begin to realize how easy the game actually is. The first dungeon is, in fact, the most challenging one. Since leveling up is so simple, you'll be overpowered very quickly and way beyond your needs. Even in the buffed-up US version regular enemies basically surrender voluntarily; they can rarely get a hit in before they are annihilated with a single strike. The game also has a very low level cap you will in all probability reach before the final dungeon.
Even though the story is very ambitious, it suffers from typically Japanese annoying generalizations concerning any other cultures but their own. Crusaders are evil to the core, assassins are turned into some sort of noble world-saving heroes, and of course it's all the the fault of organized religions (Christianity, to be exact; the guys at Renovation seem to have no trouble with Islamic fanaticism). Anachronisms are so abundant and overall adequacy of the historical material so low that it's not even fun to point that out. The different cultures are depicted without any care; they aren't even stereotypical enough to feel diverse. No matter whether you chat with a Hindu prince or visit old Greek philosophers, you feel you are in a Japanese anime game.
The Bottom Line
Exile lives and dies with its exotic scenario, which makes it less dull than a lot of other games. But that's pretty much it: stripped of its extravagant pseudo-historical nonsense, it's just a weak platformer married to an equally weak RPG system.
TurboGrafx CD · by Unicorn Lynx (181794) · 2014
The Western release of the Genesis version of Exile has been thoroughly sanitised. The protagonist Sadler is no longer a Muslim warrior, the Roman-Catholic church has been turned into the Luciel empire, and the mosque in the hometown has been profanised into a hotel.
The TurboGrafx CD version, however, is much more faithful to the original. Geographical areas and names of characters have been only slightly changed, and their prototypes are for the most part easily recognized ("Yuug d'Payne", for example, is clearly Hugues de Payens, the leader of Knights Templar during the Fifth Crusades). The famous Greek philosopher Pythagoras and the mysterious hero of masonic legends, Hiram Abiff, even survived the localization unscathed.
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Kevin Johnson.
Game added October 3, 2004. Last modified January 26, 2024.