Ni! Ni, ni!, Ni!

Source // Moby Games

I originally thought Exile was another game entirely, but comparing Exile with Exile (that is, comparing a Metroid-like Newtonian physics simulator with a controversial action RPG following a time travelling Syrian assassin) it is clear to see that Exile went into the 1001 list and Exile was left out.

Still following? Good, because you'll need some brains to play Exile, which obviously means I'm out of luck.


Originally released on the Acorn Electron and BBC Micro, Exile puts you in control of Mike Finn on a rescue mission that quickly takes a turn for the worse as renegade and psychotic engineer Triax steals your ship's Destinator, thus stranding you on the surface of Phoebus too. In order to leave, you'll have to hunt down all of your equipment, the Destinator, and of course the surviving crew members of the Pericles.

All while flying around the map with your jetpack according to Newton's laws of motion. Yeah... if you struggled with the likes of Gravitar, Thrust and Oids, you might want to look away...

The 1001 entry for Exile mentions the hours it will take to get used to the way everything moves, and highlights that there are physics-based puzzles within, including the need to put out a fire with a jar of water - after you've flown through the level without spilling the water.

That kinda sorta put me off a little, it must be said. But we've got to give Exile a chance. Unfortunately, the one version I got running was a homemade PC remake, listed as a beta demo, so I don't think I'm really getting the full experience with that one.

With a few ports having been made, I had my options for which to play - were I able to emulate them. The 1001 entry points out that the 1991 Amiga port is the go-to choice, so if I can't (yet) play it, then I'll at least watch it.

Fun Times

You can clearly see why people use the phrase 'Metroid-like' to describe Exile, but it is more to do with the immediate look of the game than any gameplay mechanics. After all, Exile isn't really a platformer, not with the amount of traversal you do via jetpack or teleporter.

It's also much more of a puzzler, especially where equipment is concerned. Finn can carry items, but in order to use many of them, he must actually physically be carrying them. Taking the jar of water from the example above means you're flying/bouncing around the level with a jar, must then dip yourself and the jar into a source of water, and finally get that water back to the fire without spilling it all.

That sounds obvious, really, and a neat example of real world physics at work, but I read that Exile goes further in that heavier objects will make your movement more difficult. One would, therefore, assume that flying with an empty jar is easier than flying with a jar full of water and that if you were to spill some water by flying face first into the nearest wall because you forgot that your flight physics would be subtly different now that you've a full jar of water, you'd fly that little bit easier now that half of it has spilt out.

If that's all true - haven't played it, remember - then games of the late 1980s weren't messing around when it came to providing enough of a challenge.

As well as dealing with the physics, the local wildlife doesn't just exist for decoration either, and you'll need to please imps with good trades (hopefully to stop them from throwing mushrooms at you), and can watch big fish eat little fish and frogs eat wasps. If that's not impressive enough, you can coax some creatures into pressing switches and the like for you by luring them with food, for example.

So you've got to deal with physics and the food chain, what else? Triax's robot army, of course. Tanks, drones and automatic guns can be found scattered around the place, and I for one would rather not find out what they do first hand because even fighting in Exile requires effort.

There are a number of weapons to find and use, but killing enemies isn't just a case of spamming the fire button. Instead, you have to deal a certain amount of damage in a certain amount of time. This requires great precision on your part, and that comes from using the aiming mechanic that I'm still trying to work out how to explain in words I understand myself.

Final Word

All of this and there is more to talk about with Exile, but I simply won't know about it until I invest a few hours into it at least.

Thankfully, it is 'welcoming' in that there are no lives to worry about, and you'll simply respawn at a previous teleport point, able to try again. But whatever it is you were trying sounds quite heavy and involved. I wouldn't be surprised if opening a door in this game is considered an achievement worth gloating about.

There are a few ports available and having watched a couple it is hard to argue against the Amiga port. Again, to stress the point, I still haven't played it to be sure, but it's the one I'm aiming for at any rate.

If you've the patience for physics simulators like Thrust and like getting lost in Metroid-like cavern systems, then Exile is a must play. I can't think of anything that comes close to it in terms of what it offers, and it sounds like the developers weren't messing around when making it.

Hopefully, I'll be able to play it sooner rather than later. Completing it? Not even going to attempt it, thanks. How about you?

Fun Facts

There is a single rabbit that you can find in Exile. It explodes. Don't let it explode.

Exile, developed by Peter Irvin and Jeremy Smith, first released in 1988.
Versions watched: BBC Micro, 1988 (LordTriax)
Amiga, 1991 (World of Longplays)