It's a hard life, this space exploration lark. But this mission is over,
and the navigation computers have been programmed for the return trip to
Earth. Time to lie back and wait...
But things are never that simple. Monitors light up all over the ship, each
one filled with the image of the Columbus Force Commander Sprake, telling you
of the escape of genetic scientist Triax, imprisoned in a space cell a century
ago but now free, his life extended using his own experiments, his mission to
create a race of maggots which will infest the universe and destroy all life
within it. What else can you do but descend onto the planet Phoebus, hunt
down Triax and bring him to justice?
Sounds simple, but as soon as you arrive, Triax beams aboard your craft, steals
the Destinator navigation system from the control console and, before you can
reach him, disappears into the void.
So there's the aim - find a way into Triax's underground lab, bring him to
justice, then find the Destinator and blast off from Phoebus. Use the many
items littered around the playing area to assist in your quest, and above all,
use your noddle - hard problems require hard thinking before they can be solved
Not only are there killer robots and, of course, the dreaded Triax to contend
with, but in Exile all manner of creatures abound to hamper and harm the budding
bounty hunter. Many, such as the green birds, just flutter around and hem you
into corners without causing any physical damage. But others, such as doves and
wasps, home in on you and don't let up until they've depleted your energy to such an
extent that you're transported back to your stricken spacecraft.
There are also some cute frogs playing in one of the ponds - quite what their
use is, if any, is yet to be established, but it is fun to pick them up and drop
them into fires!
Phoebus is an enormous place, and to walk everywhere would not just take a very
long time, it would also play hell with your corns! So it's a good job your
character owns a smart jetpack to propel him in eight, smoothly scrolling
directions. It must be constantly topped up with power though, and although
there is the odd loose energy pod lying around the planet, most of them can only
be acquired by destroying robots, either by blowing them up or, in the early
stages of the game, pushing them from high places.
OK, so Exile isn't the most graphically impressive game in the world on
either Amiga or ST, but, as the adage goes, graphics maketh not a game, and
this is most apt in the case of this product.
Exile is a sprawling arcade adventure, quite unlike anything I've ever
played, and Audiogenic's inclusion of save features to both disk and RAM is
appreciated. Trying to control the jet-propelled main character is a job in itself, but that's nothing compared to the task ahead in this nippy (more so
on the ST) exploration title.
To begin with, everything seems far too obscure, so far as solving any problems goes, but perseverance is the key to success; there is usually one
place which hasn't been visited and, sure enough, that's where the required item will be lurking.
Arcade adventure fans should lock themselves away with a copy of Exile and not come out till they're completed it.
The graphics are so dull they don't look like an Amiga (or even an ST) game and the little bloke appears to be nigh on uncontrollable, so it looks like there's
nothing but frustration in store. But... Stick with it for a while and you will be surprised to find that this is a very compelling arcade adventure.
The playing area is vast, but fortunately it's not so bland that everywhere looks the same and you're constantly getting lost. As for the puzzles, they're
equally varied, unusual and clever which makes Exile more interesting to play than
many other games like it. What's also refreshing is that the game isn't all blasting robots, and most of the problems are caused by the planet's odd natural
lifeforms - the doves and imps are particularly annoying.
Arcade adventure fans are getting an awful lot of game for their money here, and you normals needn't be followed by Exile's apparent ugliness - it's a game of unusual depth which will keep anyone occupied for months to come. Well done, Audiogenic!
Update: Exile is also available on Commodore 64 disk. The gameplay is almost exactly the same, and it's just as good. Wa-hey!