Edge of Eternity Review – A Pretty Yet Imperfect Blade
Edge of EternityJune 8, 2021; Consoles fall 2021
Does a JRPG have to be made in Japan? Perhaps more to the point, is it possible to make a good JRPG outside of Japan? Plenty of Western-developed titles, from Secret of Evermore, to Child of Light, to the countless RPG Maker projects hitting Steam every month have tried to answer the latter question. The results have been mixed, to say the least. The latest game to step up to the plate is Edge of Eternity from small French developer Midgar Studio.
While most Western-developed JRPGs look to 8 or 16-bit eras for inspiration, Midgar Studio is aiming to replicate modern games like Final Fantasy XV and Xenoblade Chronicles, while leveraging new tech like NVIDIA DLSS and AMD FSR. Pretty ambitious stuff for a team of 10 to 15 people! Does Edge of Eternity score a critical strike or will it make you want to flee? Time to find out if the Franco RPG has a shot at becoming a new genre…
Edge of Eternity delivers some heavy worldbuilding right from the get-go, introducing players to Heryon, a world in the midst of a bitter war with aliens known as the Archelites, who are seemingly responsible for the Corrosion, a nasty biological weapon that turns people into zombie-like abominations. Our main characters are a brother and sister duo – Daryon is enlisted in the Consort (Heryon’s military), while Selene is a high-ranking member of the Sanctorium (the masters of all things magical in the world).
The story is set in motion when Selene sends Daryon a letter informing him their mother is sick with the Corrosion. Daryon considers ditching the army, and his mind is quickly made up for him when, in short order, his group is ambushed by the Archelites and massacred and he discovers the Consort has resorted to sacrificing their own soldiers in dark magic rituals to fight the aliens. Disillusioned and traumatized Daryon deserts, returns home, and decides to team with his sister to find a cure to the Corrosion.
Edge of Eternity delivers everything you’d expect from a big Final-Fantasy-style story – a war between humans, aliens, and gods! Twists, turns, and backstabbing! Cheesy romance and noble sacrifices! Overall, the game’s plot is actually rather compelling, occasionally delving into some dark places your typical Square Enix game may fear to tread. And thankfully, things never become too convoluted or confusing. That said, while the broad plot strokes are solid, EoE’s French development team struggles with dialogue, which is often clunky and cringy in equal measure. The game also falls back on humor far too often, considering almost none of it lands. The game’s English voice actors do the best with the lines they’re given, but they’re not miracle workers.
Combat in Edge of Eternity is your standard turn-based Active Time Battle setup, with each character and enemy having their own timing bar that determines turn order. Players can dole out physical attacks, magic, or use items, and there are elemental strengths and weaknesses at play. Party members are a motley lot, with Daryon and Selene being joined by a gun-toting air pirate, a roguish cyborg, and more (there are six playable characters in total), each of which offers somewhat different combat mechanics. Ultimately, the most unique facet of EoE’s combat is the ability to move characters around a hex-based battlefield on their turns. Don’t expect anything too strategic, this isn’t XCOM or Final Fantasy Tactics, but you’ll need to move to avoid attacks and can score bonus damage by hitting enemies from behind.
Unfortunately, there are a number of small irritations that combine to make the combat not quite as fun as it could be. Moving consumes part of a turn, so you may find yourself avoiding it unless necessary, and the ATB system definitely needs to be tweaked. If you end up in a battle with a large number of enemies it’s very easy to get mobbed, with a half-dozen monsters taking turns whacking you before you get a chance to respond. Combat generally feels either too easy or too hard, with little in between. You’ll breeze through most enemy encounters, but then land yourself in a hopeless situation against a large mob or surprise boss battle. In one case, I found myself under-leveled and locked in an area for storyline reasons with both a boss and tough enemies I wasn’t able to beat. I eventually lucked out with enemy mobs enough times that I was able to level up and escape the area, but honestly, if I hadn’t been playing this game for review it would have been a real “Yeah, I’m done” moment.
Building up your party is fairly simple. While you can equip various types of armor, most significant upgrades are tied to your weapons, as each one has its own skill trees you unlock as you level the weapon up. Skill tree slots can be fitted with various crystals, which will unlock various passive bonuses and magic spells. It’s a solid system in theory, but unfortunately most of Edge of Eternity’s high-level weapons and gear needs to be crafted, and the game does a very poor job of telling you where to find crafting items. There’s no bestiary, crafting compendium, or special map -- finding the crafting items you need is pretty much down to blind trial-and-error. I’ll admit, I often ignored crafting and just forged ahead with brute-force levelling up (which is totally possible).
I didn’t completely forego exploring for crafting materials though, as Edge of Eternity’s world is rather lovely at times. From grassy plains to sunny beaches and icy wastelands, EoE’s vistas are impressively varied. Don’t expect anything quite as expansive as, say, the Xenoblade Chronicles games, but there are some nice open areas where you can stretch your legs. It’s a shame then, that your ability to get around is somewhat restricted. You can’t jump, you can’t climb, heck, you can’t even vault of a knee-high fence. The game’s map is very limited (essentially just a blown-up version of the minimap) making finding your way harder than it needs to be. You do get an adorable “Nekaroo” to ride (essentially a fuzzy feline version of Final Fantasy’s Chocobos) but it doesn’t entirely make up for other limitations.
The variety seen in Edge of Eternity’s world extends to the game’s missions. Sure, there’s plenty of your standard caves and dungeons to explore and “go to X and kill Y” missions, but there are also sequences that almost resemble a horror game. Other times you may find yourself doing things like leading a giant monster to attack an enemy camp, navigating a futuristic alien spacecraft, or engaging in some light puzzle solving. The game never stops throwing out new ideas.
Edge of Eternity’s diverse world certainly looks nice, with environments brought to life with lush detail and moody lighting. On the other hand, character models are rather stiff, particularly NPCs, which all look like the same character wearing different costumes and wigs. Don’t get me wrong, considering the size of the development team this is a remarkable-looking game, just keep your expectations in check. Thankfully, I don’t have to say the same about the soundtrack – it’s properly epic, featuring tracks from legendary Chrono Cross and Xenoblade composer Yasunori Mitsuda.
Speaking of epic, Edge of Eternity doesn’t skimp on content, serving up a campaign that will take at least 25 to 30 hours to complete, even if you’re keeping your eye strictly on the prize. Those interested in cleaning up all the sidequests can easily take twice that long. Again, considering how few cooks were in the kitchen, you get an impressive meal, but I can’t help but think I might have preferred something a bit more modest and better seasoned.
This review was based on a PC copy of Edge of Eternity provided by publisher Dear Villagers. You can grab a copy of the game here.
Edge of Eternity aims for the stars and manages to reach a few of them, delivering a compelling plot and an expansive, varied, and often-beautiful world. Sadly, clunky dialogue, issues with exploration and combat, and a pervasive level of jankiness hold the game back. You have to admire Midgar Studio for pushing themselves, but as is, the Edge of Eternity may be too jagged for some.
- Engaging twisty plot
- Varied, surprising missions
- Beautiful environments
- Rich soundtrack
- Lots of content
- Nekaroos are cute
- Wooden, irritating dialogue
- Combat inconsistently challenging
- Homely character models
- Issues with exploration
- Underbaked crafting