Inexistence is proof that even a mostly average and almost completely derivative game can still provide an enjoyable if not particularly memorable experience. I had a great time with this title, but for the life of me I can’t describe the vast majority of levels, bosses, or events that drive the gameplay along.
Sword and sorcery is the name of the game here. Combat has a brisk pace and a good amount of weight to it, but never is the player required to show much finesse to overcome any foe. Most boss encounters boil down to jumping and attacking their upper body while dodging a few very simple attacks. Regular enemies are much better designed and prove quite deadly by the end of the game.
Magic seems like a huge missed opportunity. Unfortunately the developers have only provided players the bare minimum requirements to allow for ranged combat. A single “magic bullet” esque attack that the player receives early in the game is as exciting as it sounds and didn’t prove much use in combat or exploration. Magic is only useful if the player heavily invests in the magic stat upon level up and even then MP regenerates too slowly to allow for a mage-like playstyle. It’s much more efficient to simply dump points into strength, life and defense, but it’s still nice to have the option.
My biggest gripe with Inexistance is with it being labeled a Metroidvania. In it’s current form it really isn’t. The game is split among several stages and exploration doesn’t become important until the final act, which is a generically designed castle that requires a few items to fully explore. Outside of collecting a few hidden puzzle pieces or weapons, Inexistence gives little incentive to the player to return to any previously visited stage upon completion. It seems that the designer may not have meant for this title to include exploration until much later into development. This becomes even more apparent during gameplay when special traversal skills are required only a handful of times.
Visually Inexistence looks pretty decent. The visual diversity of the environments and enemies is one of the more compelling elements of the game, but excluding the final area, very little detail is put into the design of each level. Prepare to run through corridor after corridor of enemies on a regular basis. Still, what is here on display is pretty high quality pixel art.
Inexistence has an excellent, high tempo score that might trick the player into thinking the game is more exciting then it actually is. Surprisingly I found myself humming the castle stage’s theme long after I put the game down. From swinging a sword, to picking up coins, the sound effects do the job, but one very basic sound is inexcusable. Jumping sounds like the hero is taking off with exploding sneakers. The sound is obnoxious and much louder then it has any right to be.
If you are looking for a short Metroidvania romp to get you through an hour or two, Inexistence fits the bill, but at six dollars I’d suggest waiting for a sale. I managed to pick up mine on Steam for 75% off. Fast paced gameplay, well designed pixel art, and a catchy soundtrack make this title worth a play, but it’s understandable if the short length, repetitive level design, and lack of exploration until the final act would put off more then a few players. The one-man-team behind Inexistence should applauded for their hard work and as of May 24th of this year they announced on Steam that they would be recoding the game from scratch and adding a plethora of new features. I’ll be interested to see what ultimately comes of the update, but the changes being advertised will certainly fix many of the issues that I might have with the game and I will provide an updated review upon delivery.
+Quick, responsive controls
+Customizable leveling system
+Interesting final story beat (No spoilers)
+Well designed enemies
-Equipment isn’t visible, nor is there very many pieces (only 12 pieces)
-Very short. ~2 hours
-Little pricey for 5.99
-Not particularly replayable. Hard and Time Attack modes are available.
-Only one spell
-Only 6 locations
-Collected abilities are underutilized
Release Date: February 17, 2016
Developer and Publisher: Jonathan Brassaud
Pick up Inexistence on Steam