Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky

Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky, published by Aksys games is an interesting take on the traditional JRPG gameplay formula, being a hybrid platformer and RPG, attempting to mix elements of both.

The background of the setting is that an alternate world exists, mirroring the real world. Killed by a mysterious force, the main cast awakens in this alternate world, unaware of their surroundings or the reason for their presence.

The narrative here has potential in the premise, but is ultimately lackluster in the delivery. With reveals coming too far in-between, allowing the player time to forget the small threads being woven. The story additionally suffers from the visual presentation; a child-like presentation juxtaposed by a very dark tale. While there is nothing wrong with a toy-like presentation in general, the contrast just doesn’t work well here, and undermines the seriousness of a lot of scenes.

The battle system is turn-based with depleting action points; the more points you have (or the less an action costs), the more actions you can do per turn. This is divided between an attack and a defense phase, with each phase drawing from the same pool of AP, leading to tactical choices about how(or whether) to attack or defend at a given time. This does add a fair bit of thought later in the game to what is otherwise a fairly standard turn based system, and is a quite welcome addition.

Overall Exist Archive isn’t great, but it’s good…enough. If you have a lull in your gaming season or need a good in-depth portable RPG, I think it’s worth playing. However if you’re backlogged on other titles, I’d recommend skipping Exist Archive.

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