Why You Always Save Your SpreadSheets

Aug 5, 2022



XEL, from Assemble Entertainment, has a lot in common with Excel, from Microsoft. Excel was designed with similarities and as a rival to Lotus 123. XEL defintly has remants of games that came before it. They both also feature empty spaces waiting to be populated. But in XEL it isn’t cells, it’s the main character Reid’s memories and the history of what occurred on XEL. That isn’t where the similarities occur. Hope you’re not on a deadline.


Publisher: Assemble Entertainment

Developer: Tiny Roar: Assemble Entertainment

Available On: Nintendo Swith; XBOX One; XBOX Series S/X; Playstation 4, Playstation 5; Microsoft Windows

Upon launching XEL, you discover the main character has two problems. She isn’t certain of what she is doing and the world around her is falling apart. Reid’s uncertainty is due to a bit of amnesia, you could say she is a tabula rasa. Now, there is nothing wrong with being a blank slate since the enjoyment in games, and life, is filling in the pieces. Just don’t lose your progress.

The initial thought I had on XEL was its environment and characters look similar to a much older game, Naughty Dog’s Jak and Daxter.. The first level could even be a carbon copy, a mix between a jungle and mechanical environment. This familiarity gave the game an enjoyable interface – the player as Reid explores the opening area easily as Lotus 1,2,3. . Now some may argue against copycat games, even stating the obvious similarities. Let me add to this, and possibly end it, every video game is just like Pong – you want to win. Seriously though, I am a champion of pseudo-similar games just like I am a fan of pseudo-similar comics. Every writer has a different lens and sees a story from a different angle


The angle the story in XEL takes isn’t the problem; it’s the one the camera does. Smash TV was the first top-down action game I remember; maybe it was Gauntlet. The angle worked back then because games and their graphics were less detailed. As you play XEL the top down view can obscure items or even enemies.

Despite sometimes not being able to fully see where you are going, I was happy with the basic movement and controls in XEL. Reid moves with an adventurous stride rather than the slow pace of other platformers. Although some may argue XEL isn’t a platformer since it is one of the games where the jump is automatic. During the opening level you acquire both a junk sword and shield in Zelda-esque fashion. Despite the comparisons XEL still feels like a rather fun game to play.

But games are just applications. And that is where XEL begins to break down; similar to the world in the game. Many features that are standard in most games don’t work well. The save feature reverts to one of its earliest formats. While the select/start menu option is my least favorite, 100% manual save points are a close second. Besides that taunting feeling it gives you – can’t you make it through -players of XEL suffer the same problem as those who used Excel. Regretting not saving often enough. Another feature that is slightly outdated is the SKIP.. While the option is there, the screen doesn’t immediately give the prompt. If you aren’t an instinctive skipper you may not know it’s possible. Both skip and save require long button holds instead of a press to activate the feature.

However, neither the save or skip matter if the game just stops. Even with the developers patches you still feel the pain, especially since there are only three save slots; storage space is irrelevant.

XEL is a game about getting back; memories and a world. But lost time is a price you can never recuperate. If you have to repeat yourself to make any progress – you can’t really excel.

Score: 5.9