Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky (PlayStation 4) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 20.11.2016

Review for Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky  on PlayStation 4

Aksys Games, tri-Ace, and Spike Chunsoft, bring us Exist Archive, a new IP developed by the makers of the Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile series. It's being released both physically and digitally in the States, and promises a celebration of 20 years of JRPG expertise, with an adventure brimming with god-like powers, a world beyond imagination and an exciting, interactive turn-based battle system. How well does it stands up?

In essence, this is a spiritual successor to the Valkyrie Profile franchise. It has many similarities, not least the story's ideas and the battle system. It begins with an amazing anime style intro that is bright, colourful, has some awesome music, and pretty much succeeds at setting the tone for the adventure. The main character and his friends are either dead or zapped into a new world where he finds a mysterious girl in a group of floating islands. The storyline focusses on solving the world's mysteries and conflicts while looking for your friends.

Screenshot for Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky  on PlayStation 4

Each level is fed from a menu, and in the hub menu it's possible to look through and select new missions, sort the party, and equip items and equipment, among other things. It's not ideal, as it would have been nice if the developer has made an actual physical hub to tie the world together a little more. The gameplay is made up of turn-based battles and platforming. The platforming segments are very metroidvania-esque, with each area where missions take place arranged with different paths, and, like in Valkyrie Profile, the maps have three planes: front, middle, and back, each of which can be traversed via doorways.

Each map also has a plethora of collectables, giving a better incentive to travel. These sections should be excellent, but instead they are quite often a little slow due to both the animation style and the jump arcs, which don't ruin the whole thing, but later, once more traversal moves have been found, platforming gets a bit more fun. In the maps the enemies are indicated by floating red gas balls, which can either be touched to interact with, or it's possible to get the jump on them by lashing out with circle.

Screenshot for Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky  on PlayStation 4

The battles are fun and fast paced, although a little too frequent sometimes. Each character in the party is assigned a face button, and pressing this during the turn actuates their attack. This can be stacked with other characters' moves, creating a nice strategic element that doesn't always make its way into this kind of game. As each character's attacks have different areas of effect, range, and height, it pays to line up the attacks to create a combo that lasts as long as possible. Another nice touch is picking the enemy to focus on out of a group, meaning it's possible to eradicate a whole group by picking a middle enemy, so the attack area also covers the rest of them - it's extremely satisfying to hit that perfect spot and knock out a long combo.

Finally, there is a smattering of "multiplayer" features included, which function like challenge dungeons. It's not really that great as mode, though and it doesn't really offer much. Some players may enjoy it, but it was purely erroneous, when the single player is so great.

Screenshot for Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky  on PlayStation 4

The visuals are also very interesting, and are a mix of 2D and 3D between the cutscenes and gameplay. The animation in cut-scenes is, oh, so fantastic - it's shiny, colourful and just damn enjoyable, even if the characters' noses are weird. The intro with the main character riding a motorbike is a great way to set this up and attract the player. Gameplay is presented with 3D character models, which are super stylized - big heads, small bodies. This style isn't great, but over time they get less jarring, with the smooth animations, reasonable texturing, and general niceness of it all that they look quite good. At least it's not as shocking as Metroid Prime: Federation Force's or World of Final Fantasy's chibi style.

The music is great too, offering a perfect mix of electrical vs. orchestral sound that has the ability to range over all of the emotions, from mystery, sadness, and elation, and it also has an amazing set of heart-pumping battle tunes. Each battle, after a certain ingame event, is introduced by a scene where the character's Xeno Factor's activate, which is similar to the summoning of the Einherar in Valkyrie Profile, and serves as a cool little flash scene before each fight begins. The battle music for the Xeno factor battles is awesome; the composition is long so it's not often that it's possible to hear it looping.

Screenshot for Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky  on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Here is a JRPG that knows what it sets out to do, and executes it in a fantastically fun way. The unique battle system, solid platforming, and interesting story should keep players going for the game's entire duration, even despite the grinding. The overall presentation takes a bit of getting used to, but it is genuinely good looking, if a little rough around at the edges, with great music and passable voice-acting. It's recommendable to Valkyrie Profile fans, though it differs from that series in many ways.






Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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