Review: Edge of Eternity

Edge of Eternity has been available in Early Access on Steam for about two and a half years. During this time players were able to get a taste of the work in progress JRPG, many making comparisons to earlier Final Fantasy games. Made by a small team of indie developers, Edge of Eternity attempts to recreate many of the elements that made classic JRPGs so memorable. This has been an anticipated title among JRPG fans for a while and we can finally see how well it delivers now that it’s complete.

Edge of Eternity begins in a familiar setting. Daryon, the protagonist is training with his massive two-handed sword that leads to heckling and friendly competitive banter, which is a thinly-veiled tutorial about battle mechanics. More of Daryon’s companions arrive and we learn about this deadly Corrosion infection and a technologically-advanced race of aliens that’s at war with their world. Getting to the know the other characters doesn’t last long as an attack happens. Outnumbered and under-prepared, Daryon and his companions make their escape, battling past powerful mechanical enemies.

It’s a dramatic start as it wastes no time briefly introducing Daryon and his companions, the general conflict and thrusts the player into the thick of things. During the prologue a clear link is shown of how both magic and religious rituals fit into the world of Heryon. Unfortunately, during this sequence there’s a lot of killing off characters which actually hurts the storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for my games having death, despair and suffering. The more misery the merrier. But with Edge of Eternity the loss of life is meant to be shown as impactful and traumatic to Daryon, but it happens so early the player doesn’t care. We’re introduced to characters and they die before we can care about them, and while it’s traumatic to Daryon, the impact of the loss to him isn’t felt by us.

After Daryon is left as the lone survivor of the events of the prologue he decides to return home after reading a letter from his sister Selene. His mother has been infected with the Corrosion, the alien plague that slowly corrupts the infected into what could be described as cyber zombies, which gives me a brilliant idea for creating a The Last of Us and Terminator crossover. Daryon teams up with his sister Selene, and it feels like the game will only feature these two party members because for an unusually long time these are the only two characters in your party. You get more eventually, but it seems like the pacing of introducing party members is slow for a massive RPG.

World building and story development are among the more ambitious points of Edge of Eternity. There’s a lot going on with the story, and while the idea of unassuming angsty teenage soldier is haphazardly tasked with saving the world from a grand calamity isn’t anything new, the story is at least an interesting take. Information about the greater plot is doled out gradually so it never becomes overwhelming. Unfortunately, it seems like the scope of the story the developers want to tell exceeds what the game is capable of as there are many parts throughout the game where it feels like more information could help make things feel more complete. The mix of medieval fantasy where heroes fight monsters with swords and magic blended with technological that exceeds what we’ve achieved in the modern world has always seemed absurd, but there’s countless animes and JRPGs that have successfully pulled off blending the fantasy and sci-fi tech worlds. The landscapes designs are interesting, mixing natural formations that wouldn’t exist in a world without magic combined with evidence of the alien technology. There’s a crafting system for customizing and improving equipment, but the drop rates for many important items is low, making it a painful grind, while the crafting system itself is shallow and poorly executed.

Combat in Edge of Eternity is a mix between traditional turn-based JRPG combat and the grid system in tactical RPGs. Even on the default difficulty setting there are challenging battles, but thanks to a difficulty slider players who want to breeze through the game can make it easier and seasoned tactics vets can amp up the challenge. Characters do have specific classes that dictate their role in battle and learning how to use each type of effectively is the key to success. Positioning on the battlefield is important, and some battles will have environment elements that can be interacted with to turn the tide in the player’s favor such as triggering a rockslide. Character progression is done through leveling up weapons and affixing crystals to them to give certain abilities and stat boosts. Later in the game there are large-scale battles that are impressive. The combat system is ambitious for a turn-based tactics system, but some of the bigger battles can feel laborious while waiting for enemies to cycle through their turn.

On a technical level Edge of Eternity is a mixed bag. The environments look great but many of the monsters look generic. The dialogue and voice acting is mediocre at best and the character lip sync animations look like a dubbed Godzilla movie. The map markers for side quests make destination locations clear and there’s a large open world to explore, but freely exploring doesn’t hold interest for long. The Nekoroos are adorable creatures, but due to a stamina bar and negligible speed improvement they don’t offer much benefit to riding them. Edge of Eternity was developed by a small team of indie developers, and keeping that in mind it’s a rather impressive game, but acknowledging the impressive achievement doesn’t necessarily make up for the lack of AAA polish when one is trying to enjoy the game.

Closing Comments:

Edge of Eternity is a love letter to classic Final Fantasy and Xenoblade games. It doesn’t live up to the level of its influences, but given the small team and limited resources, it’s an impressive attempt. The story does rely on tropes and the characters aren’t all that likeable, and while the game comes close to reaching its ambitious goals, it never reaches its full potential. It does scratch the JRPG itch and fans of the games that influenced it will likely get a lot of enjoyment from Edge of Eternity, but ultimately it’s a good but not great JRPG.