Classic: Exile Trilogy, Blades of Exile

By: Paul Eres

On: June 7th, 2009

The Exile games are RPGs in the Ultima style: make a party, crawl through an enormous world, gain stats, talk with people, kill thousands of monsters, and so on. Very addictive. They were later remade as the Avernum series, although some don’t like the remade games as much as the original ones (especially the remade graphics perspective).

My absolute favorite part of the game is how detailed the world is, how each NPC has custom text and feels like a real person, with their own lives and backgrounds. The story is written in third person, like a fantasy novel, which is odd for a game but works well here.

Jeff Vogel released the first Exile game back in 1995, making him one of the most classic indie developers still actively making games (he’s still releasing new ones, Geneforge 5 is the latest). The original shareware Exile trilogy was released between ’95 and ’97, and the free and open source Blades of Exile game (where users can create their own campaigns) was also released in ’97.

Of the original three, the first one is a bit dated, so I actually recommend beginning with the second or third one, or with the free Blades of Exile, since the GUI and so on are much improved on over the first one. For instance, to ask a character about a specific thing involves clicking on a word in the second and third game, but manually typing that word out in the first game. Even the demos of the shareware ones are quite lengthy, and offer at least 10-20 hours of gameplay each.

These were some of the first indie games I ever played, they existed before the term ‘indie game’ was even commonly in use. One of my fondest game-related memories is, back on Windows 3.1, noticing that the graphics to Exile 2 and 3 were stored in simple .bmp format, and going into MS Paint and manually editing the appearance of a few of the character sprites, customizing them for my characters, such as replacing a staff with a sword, or recoloring red clothes to blue.

  • Quetz

    Oh delicious. I’ve spent so many hours playing these games, they’re really great.

  • Mgccl

    I loved these games, sadly I never get the time to finish them.

  • Kevin Gadd

    Some of my all-time favorite games. I spent dozens of hours playing Exile 3.

  • Joeb

    I remember when I first got AOL in the mid 90’s, I came across these games in the game download area, and of the three, I got to the end of the free part of Exile 3 (and considering how big that part was, I could only imagine how much more of the game I had left to play).

  • Tacroy

    If you want an updated version of Exile, you should look at Avernum – it’s almost exactly Exile, except with a newer, slightly prettier engine.

  • tard

    I downloaded blades of exile and don’t really know how to run it, or even if I can run it concidering I use vista.

  • kongming

    I know it’s cool to hate on Avernum for the graphics, but I think they’re much better games than the Exile ones.

  • LSK

    I just started playing Exile 3 again the day before this post. It’s brilliant – the sheer level of detail is amazing.

  • Paul Eres

    i know it’s cool to tell other people that they only hold their opinions because it’s cool to hold them — wait, no it’s not

    also, they work fine on vista for me — perhaps you need admin mode or something?

  • Elkovsky

    I could’ve sworn I read somewhere that the author had released the full versions of the original trilogy for free, even though the Avernum equivalents are still commercial software. Is this true, or did I dream or hallucinate this perhaps?

  • kongming

    Tsk, tsk, Paul. No need to get defensive!

    I will say that “Exile” is a much cooler name, for both the game and the place, than “Avernum.”

  • Paul Eres

    well, if it helps you change your behavior in comments it’s worth doing. small chance of that, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

    and as far as i know the original three are not free, although blades of exile is free and has enough scenarios by now to probably be longer than the original trilogy itself if you play them all.

  • Tet

    Oh hell yes. I played through Avernum and Avernum 3 thoroughly. Exile was an amazing feat for a single college kid to pull off.

  • dinopoke

    Are you sure Blades of Exile is free?

    There is an option to still order the game even though it’s open source.

    At the same time, the pages for the previous Exile games don’t have order buttons but if you go to their online store, there is an option to purchase them.

    I’m confused. :/

  • Ivy

    I think I played Exile: Escape from the Pit every day after school when I was 12-13. The sheer amount of secret doors, caverns, and temples was mind-blowing, not to mention the number of original personalities you could meet.

    I had almost forgotten about these, so thanks for the trip down memory lane. And wow, they were indie? Even better!

  • Hiro

    Ah, I still have the demo of the first Exile sitting around my computer! I’ve been lugging it around ever since I found it a long time ago as a lad… Definitely an excellent game. I’ve been meaning to buy the full trilogy for a while now.

    I played the demos of Avernum and was a little turned-off by it… Ah well.

  • Vanguard

    I put tons of hours into a shareware version of the original Exile. Definitely a fun game. I remember liking the details, the secrets, and the robust character building.

  • gor

    A playable free version of Blades of exile can be found at
    there is also source code if you are so inclined

  • d1

    u cud always crak the code by downloading the keygen