*The following article was written after receiving a free copy of the game for review. The thoughts portrayed are those of my own and were not directed in any way by the developer, publisher, or any other applicable party in making this article a reality.
I just want to preface that while trying to make a first impression, Edge of Eternity, being developed by Midgar Studio and slated for a 2021 release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam, showed that it was going to be a herculean task in brevity. Just as I thought I could put the controller down from getting a proper feel for the game; a new deluge of mechanics and systems would just pull me under again for another hour. Much like getting a good feel for this game was, you the reader will also be overwhelmed by my largest article yet. For those seeking a TL:DR I tried my best to summarize things at the end of this first impression. For those willing to travel alongside me for the full duration: I salute you and hope you brought a snack. With that said let’s jump right into some positives shall we?
This game is beautiful and immersive much like you’d expect form a AAA studio only this team is comprised of only nine members. one thing of note however are the eyes are kinda creepy looking. like blood shot and exhausted glass orbs shoved into the sockets. The voice acting has a similar disposition: Wooden yet oddly full of life. It sounds like the actors are reading the script with some confidence but without a clear indicator they memorized them; delivering stilted yet emotive lines to let you know that there is promise if the director is willing to put the time into polishing the line reading. On the bright side these lines come with the added bonus of having subtitle font size be customizable. I found 4x to be very nice and reminded me of what you would see from the pre HD era of RPG gaming. Sadly there is no option I can find to add a colored, transparent, layer behind it to make that dialogue easier to read but being early access it may very well be added in the future. Like in Radiata Stories there is an internal clock to this game and it dictates what NPCs are doing and where they are among other things; helping the world have realism.
The story so far is reminiscent of Star Ocean fare only if you removed the UP3 right out the gate. You are an underdeveloped planet that got found by another planet and a prosperous relationship blossomed. Well that is until of course the space travelers decided to be greedy with the resources to be had and went all aggro on them. The narrative and story direction is probably the highlight of this game; containing many cut scenes (which you can skip. TAKE NOTES SQUARE ENIX!) and a script that is as playful as it is serious. Though I suppose this lines up perfectly with expectations when you look at the graphical fidelity of the game. Still for nine people to be this ambitious while holding their own in the process, is truly remarkable. That said… I wasn’t feeling the story itself. You can tell this is missing the polish you would get from having someone edit what feels like competent, if not mildly tone deaf translation. After the introductory chapter things seem to get better in this regard but only time will tell if this will continue to improve.
Battles feel less snappy than other turn based systems however, the amount of flexibility in what can be done when it’s your turn, is both refreshing and worth the extra time spent menuing. It reminds me of the gears in a watch: One gear to choose what type of action you want that splits off into more gears that encapsulates the essence of time itself moving with every button press and action. It’s freedom meets precision and for that I’m very grateful to the developers for evolving turn based battles; proving that in modern times, it still has relevance and excitement. After winning a fight you will find that on top of the expected character leveling and money drops, the weapons themselves level up as well. Of annoyance however is the limit of how many items (currently two) you can grab from what the enemies drop. It’s just strange to see a game have this polished a battle interface and show such promise in leveling trip over something as simple as getting items after a fight. Another negative is in movement taking up time in your turn order. I would prefer it if you would either have no penalty for moving to an adjacent space or possibly a damage nerf for doing so. It might also be nice if you can end your turn by stating in what direction you wish your character to be facing to help better manage things like backstabs when you encounter groups of enemies. One really cool feature is in the special mission you get in each battle. You follow the instructions like say backstab an enemy and voila! more items for you. it’s a small addition that adds rewards your strategy and offers more replayability into the battle system.
Outside of battle and exploration is the menu. You will spend a lot of time here; mainly cause the devs are pulling all the stops in making this the most robust rpg you will ever find. We’ve already talked about how weapons level up but you can also attach ma… Crystals to them as well for stat boosts and other fun things. There is a revel… Constellation flow where you can absorb crystals into your character in order to learn skills and stat boosts. You can set food to cook and feed your party… What I’m getting at is It’s grabbing the best of several popular rpg games and series in an almost unapologetic love letter kinda way. They copied the homework but changed it up just enough to make it their own. Everything taken and changed to fit the game is welcoming but it also feels like they are trying too hard to be the best on the backs of what they loved rather than truly stand out among the crowd. Will I complain if that is the case? Oh heck no! It feels like the game of my own dreams is right in front of me and I’m sure almost everyone who picks up Edge of Eternity will think the same way.
As with any early access game, You will find small hiccups from time to time while playing Edge of Eternity. For me the only real glaring issue I found, aside from the characters eyes, is that subtitles have a chance of not following the dialogue, sometimes being stuck till a character is finished all of their lines for their current segment of dialogue. That might be because I played around with 4x subtitles but it’s still an issue that needs addressing. There are also continuity errors already in the plot. such as early on when you get to an area that your main character cannot access due to the events of a cut scene, suddenly is open and is used to help with emotional direction but once you realize the impossibility of the whole thing it falls on deaf ears. Characters are also given names in cut scenes before we even know who they are instead of more generically descriptive ones. When quests reach their next step a handy notification pops up to tell you it’s updated but it will not say what to do next which is bothersome when you realize you have to go into the menu and make your way to the quest option and then highlight the quest in question. one aspect that has potential but is flawed is the equipment. you can get a pair of shoes equip them and get another pair of the same shoes but with a different set of stats attached. This really doesn’t have a place in a traditional solo RPG and in some ways wasn’t the kindest things for games like Diablo that heavily used it.
Overall Edge of Eternity is a very fun RPG with a lot going for it. It is also a beautiful testament to the tenacity of the indie developer in making a grand scale game that could rival AAA offerings. unfortunately, much like the David of this game to the Goliath that are the games it wishes to lovingly join, Edge of Eternity is trying to do too much and it’s not doing it as well as one would hope it could at the moment. This could all change as time marches on but for now it’s a waiting game full of compromise and lack of properly guided direction. I only hope the devs find what sacrifices are needed to make everything work cohesively before it becomes too much for them to handle.