By Michael Fontanini / July 15th, 2020
|Release Date||May 22nd, 2020|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Indie, Metroidvania, Platformer, RPG|
|Age Rating||PEGI 12|
In the world of Inexistence Rebirth, you take on the role of a teenager named Hald. He and his sister, Hania, are “Keepers” chosen by the gods. They share a sacred duty to maintain order and balance in the world. However, the peace they’ve worked to maintain has been shattered by a new evil lashing out. Hania has been cast into a deep slumber by Claos, a man of fell intentions, in order to break the balance and shatter the peace. Can you survive long enough to save Hania and the world?
Inexistence Rebirth is an improved re-release of a metroidvania game called Inexistence, that pays homage to the SNES era. It has an expanded world map and an unlockable sister mode, where you play as Hania instead. It will appear as a new option in the difficulty selection when starting a new game. However, you’ll have to defeat Claos (beat the game) once to unlock it. His true identity may surprise you, but you’ll have to uncover it for yourself! With his sister trapped in deep slumber, Hald leaves his home and ventures into the world beyond. He has a simple weapon (a wooden sword) and the ability to fire magic projectiles through the air in a straight line. If he uses it too much, he’ll have to give his magic a little time to recharge. It offers a ranged attack to hit enemies from afar when melee is to risky. Hald can also roll to dodge attacks.
As Hald progresses in his adventure, he will encounter many types of enemies, which are added to the bestiary once defeated. Enemies will drop green bits of XP upon death, with some dropping larger cyan colored XP orbs. A couple of enemy types can drop a new weapon that Hald can equip, such as the Heavy Sword. Each time Hald levels up, you can choose which stats to put the earned level-up points into. Hald’s three stats are strength (attack power), defense, and magic. It appears that any one stat can be leveled to a maximum of level of 200. Leveling up also nets you a skill point each time. These can be used to purchase new magic abilities, such as double jump, or the ability to destroy giant boulders that block your way. One of the first magic abilities summons a huge, translucent sword made of magic energy, which swipes down in front of you to slash any foe that happens to be in its way before then vanishing.
Getting all of the magic skills will probably require you to do a little bit of grinding for XP to earn enough skill points. You can also find a few skill points scattered around in the game world to collect. You can see the HUD below, which has three bars in the upper left of the screen. The red bar and number shows your HP, while the green bar shows your progress towards the next level-up, and the blue bar is your mana, which slowly recharges on its own.
Inexistence Rebirth places save rooms throughout the world, so you don’t lose too much progress when you die. Not only can you save in these rooms by interacting with the stone fountain, but you can also teleport to any other save room you’ve discovered so far.
Hald has three types of gear, which are weapons, armors, and artifacts. Only one of each can be equipped at a time. Some weapons are unlocked by collecting coins in the world and purchasing them from the old man who runs a shop near Hald’s house. The old man also gives you the side quest of finding all 10 golden puzzle pieces in the world. If you return to him after doing so, he will give you a special artifact that can double the XP you earn. He also sells some other things, like healing items, or an item that lets you warp to the shop. In my experience, you probably won’t use the shop enough to really need to warp directly to it. However, this may change in hard mode or sister mode, where those healing items might be a lot handier to have! You’ll also find a few in chests around the world.
Inexistence Rebirth has a number of different enemy types that are waiting to block Hald’s path to Claos. Hald will need to be careful, as death comes easily to those who are careless and impatient. Once in a while, you’ll enter a room with some ominous music playing. This gives you warning that a boss lies just a head, so walk through the next doorway at your own risk. The first boss monster you’ll encounter is the fairly basic Cyclos. Once you learn his patterns quick, he will go down fairly easily.
The gameplay in Inexistence Rebirth is fun, but it has a few minor flaws. The controls can feel clunky on occasion. If he takes damage, Hald cannot attack for a second or two after that, which takes some getting used to in the early game. One other minor issue is that if he falls off a ledge into a deadly pit or lava, there is a glitch. If you’re still holding the joystick in a walk direction, he’ll fall off the edge again almost instantly when he respawns. This feels odd and doesn’t make much sense. It is as if he either spawns right on the edge, or he is invisible but walking off the edge again before he has respawned so that he just instantly dies again. However, there is no limit to how many times you can die and respawn, so there are no real consequences from this glitch.
While the gameplay is enjoyable, it has a few other flaws. The game itself is shorter than you might expect. However, the new sister mode and multiple difficulties mitigate this somewhat. There are also Steam achievements to collect. The variety of gear is limited, with six items per category that have a fairly linear progression. You’ll probably just equip the most powerful item you have in each category. They all buff, debuff, or have no effect on each of your three stats mentioned above. Each gear item improves at least one stat, oftentimes at the cost of decreasing one or both of the others.
The soundtrack of Inexistence Rebirth is very good. For example, in the cave area you get a rather bombastic song that fills the caverns with a sense of danger and tension. Meanwhile, the sound effects are simple, but do their job well enough.
Inexistence Rebirth is a fun little indie metroidvania game that pays tribute to games of the SNES era. Its biggest flaw is that it is over too soon, but the price is reasonable. However, the new sister mode and multiple difficulty levels from easy to hard give it more play time. Once unlocked, sister mode is an option in the difficulty selection when starting a new game. If you like the genre, just don’t go in expecting it to be a massive game or one that redefines the genre, because it is neither of these things. Some players will find the selection of gear to be too small/simple, as the game is fairly basic. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my time with the game. The game has a touch of souls-like to it, as you have to be careful if you want to survive. However, it is not a full on souls-like. You will die more often until you get some level-ups under your belt and some better gear, but not too much. My quest through normal difficulty mode lasted 12 hours for 100% completion. If you take on hard mode and sister mode (unlocks after beating the game), your total play time will be at least 3X that. You can grab Inexistence Rebirth on the Steam Store for $8.00. There is also a bundle that includes the original game while discounting both games by 50%, making it cheaper than getting this game by itself. The store page also says that if you already own the original game, you can get Inexistence Rebirth for 50% off. Do you have what it takes to save your sister and the island, or will your death hand Claos the world?
Review copy provided by publisher.
InexistenceInexistence RebirthJonathan BrassaudMetroidvaniaperipheral consciousness