Let me preface this review with a bit of an explanation of how I work. The price of a game or the number of people it took to create it makes no difference to me when I am making my critiques. I firmly believe a game should only be reviewed based on its content and instead leave it up to the reader whether or not they want to take into consideration how cheap the game is or how much slack they will cut it depending on the size of the developer team. I only bring this up because Midgar Studio (who previously created HOVER) is a team of only around 10 or so people and Edge of Eternity is a budget RPG of massive scope, but with every positive note there seems to be a downside. Still, that doesn’t mean that Edge of Eternity is a waste of time. They might have bitten off more than they can chew with this one but it is a game with a lot of heart.
The game is set in the turbulent world of Heryon: a place where an incurable disease called the Corrosion runs rampant, tainting the land and corrupting humans and wildlife alike. The Consort (Heyron’s ruling power) is trying its best to contain the spread but their hands are full with an ongoing 30-year war against a mysterious and technologically advanced enemy known as the Archelites, who are also believed to be the cause of the corrosion. Originally peaceful settlers from another planet, they now send down waves of deadly machine enemies from their impenetrable airships to constantly harass the Consort and the people of Heyron. Enter our grumpy, giant-sword-wielding, black-clad hero Daryon. Conscripted by the Consort to fight in the never-ending war, he is hanging around the barracks with his unit when they are suddenly attacked by the kill-bots of the Archelites. Without major spoilers, the intro is a pretty good start but the overall story is trope-heavy and the plot pace is turtle-like. Daryon becomes a deserter and returns home to his mother when he receives a letter saying that she has the corrosion. Once he returns home, he sets off with his sister Selene, a priestess of the Sanctorum who specializes in magic use and the crystals that are abundant in Heryon and said to be gifts of the gods. Together they set off on a journey to find a cure for the corrosion and end it once and for all.
And what a journey: Edge of Eternity clocks in at around 40-60 hours, depending on how much of a completionist you are. Just the main story alone takes up a lot of time. Heck, it took me a few hours before you join up with your sister, and then you only get a real third-party member around the 25-hour mark. If you are looking to level up and get money (which is a good idea since the combat can get quite challenging), you’ll need to take up some sidequests and hunts. While there are a few meaningful and interesting sidequests, the brunt of them are basic fetch quests. The hunts are even more boring. While I started off doing as many as I could, they quickly lost their luster due partly to the lack of enemy diversity. It also doesn’t help that a lot of them are reskinned and slight variations of real-life animals like boars, deer, and wolves. The bosses can be cool but we’ll talk about that later.
The setting and its environments are reminiscent of Xenoblade Chronicles and its wide-open maps and beautiful vistas, albeit on a much smaller scale. They are gorgeously detailed and varied, and the weather and time of day mechanics add a little extra pizzazz. The characters look fairly nice but the animations can be a little stiff and wood-like during the cutscenes. The night cycle could use a better form of shading though. While the light sources and special effects look lovely in the dark, everything else (like the character and enemy models) just looks like a muddled mess of darkness. This is further compounded by the fact half your party is dressed in black. Sometimes all I see of Daryon is the bright green of the sword strapped to his back. While the visual fidelity is fantastic and screenshots look gorgeous, watching it in motion is a whole other thing, and the reason is the unstable framerate when moving the camera around. If your character is moving without touching the right stick to adjust the camera, it’s not bad. As soon as you start swinging that camera, the framerate is atrocious. I found it quite jarring when I started the game and never quite got used to it. It isn’t much of a problem when you’re in a small dungeon, but the more open and detailed the area is, the worse the camera. Playing around with the graphics/performance setting does nothing. The maps are dotted with monsters, treasure chests, and useful crafting ingredients to collect, so exploration is not a total waste of time. Instead of standard fast travel, there are save points at crucial areas that also act as teleportation devices that can take you to a previously visited place, for a small fee.
The combat is one of Edge of Eternity’s best features, though it could have been utilized a little better. It marries the idea of standard turn-based battles with a hexagon-shaped grid for movement around a small battlefield, adding a tactical edge to the gameplay. Up to four characters (or enemies) can occupy the same hex, so any type of area attack can hit the occupants of an entire hex, but most of the skills in the game target individual units. I would have liked to see more area attacks available since Earth Rift is the only one you will have access to for half the game. Spells take time to cast and can be interrupted with a basic attack, so keeping Selene away from danger while staying in spellcasting range is something you’ll need to master early on. Monsters have abilities that can sometimes be interrupted but they get to take a new turn right away so it’s not as useful as you may think. If you can move around and get behind an enemy, attacks do extra damage but it can be hard to pull off with just two party members. You can often find things littered around the area that can be interacted with, like ballistae or maybe a bomb of some sort that will damage everyone in the hex when attacked. In addition to that are giant crystals or hazardous objects that can grant a passive bonus to occupants each turn, or dish out damage. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use some of these tactics to the fullest extent since you spend a great portion of the beginning with only two party members, one being primarily a spellcaster. Once Ysoris joins you much later on, you will be able to play around more with crowd control, since that is one of his specialties.
The bosses in Edge of Eternity are a great example of how good the combat systems can be. These encounters can be very tough and require you to make use of the mechanics to the fullest and develop a strategy to defeat them. Borborygm is a giant frog-like boss suffering from corrosion. As he jumps around the map, you need to hound him while managing the respawning corroded humans, or else Borborygm can eat them to regain a good chunk of health. If you can’t keep him from healing up, you’ll never win. Although your course of action might not be obvious right away, you can usually glean a hint from the special objectives that pop up at the start of each fight. Meeting the special requirements earns you rewards, but if you clear all of them, you will usually get a strong piece of equipment.
The last aspect of the combat that I want to cover is the crystals. Each weapon you acquire can gain experience and has a max level. The rule of thumb is that the more powerful the weapon, the higher the max level you can upgrade it to. That’s not all there is to it. The weapons have small branching paths in which you can freely swap in the various types of colored crystals. Every crystal has random stat upgrades attached to them but some will also contain special battle skills unique to each party member. Without these crystals equipped, your team will have absolutely no special skills to use. This means more often than not, you’ll have to swap around skill crystals to meet the elemental weaknesses of the local monsters. On top of the bonus gained from the crystal itself, each node of the weapon grants an additional boon. It’s a fun idea that adds a bit more depth to the character customization without too much extra work. I wish the skills were a bit more varied, though.
While not perfect by any means, Edge of Eternity is a solid roleplaying game that will keep you busy for quite a while; as long as you don’t mind the plodding story pace and the camera’s off-putting framerate issues.
Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 6.5/10
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