Blades of Exile is easily the best game of the Exile series. Pretty much a common RPG on the surface, but on the inside is a whole new world for you to explore and challenge anyone, even if you are the best RPG player in the world. Included in the game comes three complete adventures and scenarios, so a warning of caution, the game is extremely challenging (I found it quite difficult). As I said before, the game comes with three full scenarios: The Valley of Dying Things, The Mild Rebellion, and The Za-Khazi Run, the difficulty levels are as listed The Valley of Dying Things being the easiest. Each scenario has it's own storyline and gaming style and strategy. The best part of having progressively harder scenarios is that you can build up your Exile skills before you venture onto the harder scenarios. Adventuring is similar to that of Final Fantasy as you will have several different regions to cover over the world map (unfortunately there is nothing like an Airship ;-). The world of Exile is covered in two main places, the overworld and the underworld. All underworld people are those that are Exiles (hence the name of the game). The Empire (oh too common), is the root of evil. The adventuring involves going to various locations such as undead chambers, weird temples, and mountain regions to name a few. Much of the game is battle oriented as defeating many goblins and undead spirits will lead to prizes and rewards from various people. Each of the towns have a purpose whether it be they will teach you a mission or give you something to aid on your quest. Many times you will need to do more than just battle the situation, talking is a critical part of the game. Learning from other people and gaining knowledge of a situation will always take you further than thousands of battles (though that will help too).
In towns is the most critical part of the game. Without knowledge of the surrounding environment, you will be toast. Most of the NPC characters will need to be talked to in order for you to learn of your mission or your objective as to what to do next. The talking engine is quite effective and will make you work to get the information out of the person you will need. You will get a screen that displays the character and a few questions to them (all characters respond to "Name" and "Job", but from the context they speak of, you will be required to deduce the information out of them by asking them keywords in their speech. Searching and looking at certain objects will lead you to finding new objects that maybe of less or more value to you than your last item. Often, you will be searching boxes and dressers, looking for any special item that can help you on your way. The movement of your characters all move together in one group (like Final Fantasy) and will only spread apart when you enter into battle. You have almost complete control of all the effects of the game, you can turn the game around by doing something bad to a civilian or turn to the good side by helping out those missions that require some form of kindness from the heart (even though the missions maybe a pain in the butt). The control over the party is like that almost of real life, your characters need to eat food, days will pass by (certain missions will require you to accomplish a task within a certain amount of time, like The Za-Khazi Run scenario requires it to be finished in 20 days). Each of the missions will be lengthy and often you will forget what you need to do after long battles, but that's what the adventurer's log is for! You can record all your tasks into a virtual notepad system that will keep track of your duties.
The battle engine is all turn based (similar to Final Fantasy) in the way the combat engine works. The overhead map is similar except that you will see the enemies before they run into you. Inside the battle engine, you will have much more control and options available to you than anywhere else in the game. Most of the battles are to quite a large scale as most battles occur in large dungeons and special locations where the whole grounds are battle fields. At your dispense are a large set of arsenal ranging from swords to staffs, each with unique qualities if they are uniquely copper, iron, broad, etc. Armor of course is a large factor in your survival, ranging from leather cloth to full breast plates. All your battling skills depend on your levels and your skills. With each level gained you will receive a certain amount of skill points to distribute among your large set of pool of skills, each skill affects your characters' performance in battle greatly. One skill point can mean dealing the last blow or your death. You can have missile attacks (slings, bow and arrows) or you can use hand to hand weapons (swords, spears, maces), but these weapons aren't yet too effective until you have a higher skill in these weapon handling skills. Therefore, you magic will be a good resource in helping you defeat the enemies earlier on. There are two forms of magic: Priest Magic and Mage Magic. Priest magic is the use of healing or aiding your party while Mage magic acts as black magic in at is acts as a force to defeat or battle the enemy. There are many, many, many spells to learn from Level 1 spells to Level 8 spells. There are several options in battle at your dispense, you can cast spells, attack, launch missiles, defend, wait turn, end turn, and collect items. Each of these options will thoroughly enhance the gaming play of the battles. But the AI of the enemies are excellent, most enemies are right difficulty, but many of them are super strong and super impossible to beat...
The game is very lengthy and is a lot of fun, guaranteed that. Each of the missions are very well designed and each have an intriguing plot that will keep you addicted to the gameplay for a long time to come as they are extremely tough and fun scenarios. But, to add even more fun to that, the game includes a character editor *AND* a scenario editor! The character editor can be used to cheat or make the game even more difficult by lowering your stats and skills. The scenario editor; however, is the RPG gamer who wants to regain a life after playing all the missions of Blades of Exile a nightmare. The scenario editor allows a person to create their own scenarios and distribute them all over the internet. Spiderweb's website currently is loaded with lots of levels and scenarios to download and hack away at and each of the levels have ratings of the better and worse scenarios! This is great for the life of this game as you can almost never run out of games to play. The scenario editor is not the most user friendly tool, but it is extremely powerful and can create some really good scenarios.
Despite how good this game is, one cannot forget the fact that the graphics in the game are downright awful. The graphics are all tile based, so they have the same sized textures and will all move a certain amount of spaces. The game uses an ancient graphics engine which still uses a 640x480 resolution and 256 colors. Despite the lack of resolutions and colors, they are decent for what they are built upon and the environments look a lot like what they should look like. Each of the environments possess their own touch and feeling beyond what is seen. The towns and mines really look like what you would expect them to look like (to some extent). The characters look decent, but they aren't animated. They have a choppy move tile system which they just magically appear in a spot. Some of the spells are animated, but they offer nothing special.
Sounds are also not a big thing in this game. All the sound effects are simple sounds you can hear anywhere and make yourself. There are a few MIDI compositions here and there, they sound nice, but again, are nothing special. Each of the sounds are composed of walking sounds, opening sounds, attacking sounds, and so fourth. All of the sounds are pretty common around and nothing special is to beheld.
Controls are excellent for the most part. You have the option of keyboard or mouse. Both can do the job perfectly well, just keyboard is a bit faster, but will require you to learn all the hotkey commands using letters and numbers. Using the keypad for movement is ideal as you'll want to move diagonally and sideways simultaneously. Each command comes with a hotkey including each and everyone of the spells (~80 for each type!). Only problem is, again, lack of configurability. The game's interface is perfect and nothing else can really be done to improve it. The load/save feature is flawless and easy to use. Each of the menus can also be used as buttons that serve in the game for spells, actions, etc.
The storyline of course will be very unique to each of the scenarios, but the storylines that are included in the original game are excellent and engaging. They will keep you wanting to learn more and more about each of the events and why something has happened to this once happy nation. Each of the stories (hey, my nickname!) are very unique and have a totally different appeal. They will keep you hooked and will be stories remembered.
People who downloaded Blades of Exile have also downloaded:
Exile 3: Ruined World, Exile 2: Crystal Souls, Exile 1: Escape from the Pit, Avernum, Blade & Sword, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Blind Justice, Dark Disciples
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