Exiled Kingdoms Review

Eschalon: Book II

Release Date:2018-02-23
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay

For the most part, I found Exiled Kingdoms to be enjoyable.  It's not overly complicated, so you can start it up, kill stuff for a while, and then put it back down without worrying that you're going to forget what's going on.  And since the battles can be tough, especially in the early- and mid-game, you get a lot of satisfaction for defeating enemies and gaining levels.

But there is one big caveat: unless you're playing on the "casual" difficulty, you're not allowed to save your game (outside of exit saves) while you're in a dungeon.  I can understand why this decision was made -- you don't want to trivialize combat by allowing saves in between each battle.  But the dungeons are where the toughest fights, the deadliest traps, the trickiest puzzles, and all of the "learning" in the game takes place, and so not allowing saves in them just makes them annoying and frustrating.

As an example, the game's finale takes place in a dungeon.  This area includes the nastiest enemies (who are all suicide bombers) and annoying health drains, and it's just an easy place to die, even if you know what's coming and you're equipped for it.  Worse, the game ends with a potential boss battle, which takes about a half hour to reach.  So if the boss kills you, then you have waste 30 minutes to try again, and that's only if nothing kills you on the way back and you have to start over again.  Some people might find this sort of thing to be challenging and worthwhile, but I found it to be annoying and a waste of time.  When I finally finished the game, my save said I had been playing for 80 hours, but checking with Steam, I had actually been playing for 100 hours, which means all of my deaths cost me 20 hours.  That's too much in my opinion, especially in a game that requires a lot of grinding anyway.

Bugs, Graphics, and Sound

Exiled Kingdoms is essentially bug free.  It didn't crash on me even once, and the worst thing that ever happened was that for some reason shopkeepers stopped dealing with me, but that corrected itself when I loaded my game.  Of course, patches keep coming out for the game every week or so, but these seem to be for balance issues more than bug fixes.

The graphics get the job done, but there's nothing exciting or flashy about them.  Everything in the game is in 2D, and it's easy to see the square grid that was used by the developer to create the environments.  A lot of assets also get re-used frequently, and so all of the inns (where you can rest and learn rumors) and town halls (where you can store your stuff and pick up random quests) look the same, as do a lot of the caves and other dungeons.

Exiled Kingdoms includes music and sound effects but no voiced dialogue.  I seem to be one of the few people around who doesn't mind reading dialogue, especially since keeping it unvoiced gives a game's writers more options, but Exiled Kingdoms isn't the sort of game that has a need for subtle dialogue variations, and so it just skips voice actors to save money (which is okay with me as well, provided that the savings trickle down to the players).  As for the music and sound effects, they're functional, and I didn't feel the need to turn them off after spending 100 hours with the game (which isn't always the case).

Conclusion

Overall, I liked Exiled Kingdoms well enough, but I didn't love it.  There was too much grinding for me, and I think I would have enjoyed the campaign more if I had only needed to kill things once or twice, and I had finished after about 30 hours, rather than killing everything dozens of times and playing for 80 hours.  Still, there are lots of creatures to battle and places to explore -- not to mention numerous placeholders (like an unused arena in one of the towns) just waiting for a future expansion -- and it's tough to complain too much about a game that only costs $8.  So if hacking and slashing is your thing, then Exiled Kingdoms is a game worthwhile to check out.