What Edge Of Eternity lacks in budget, it makes up with its honesty, passion, and heart, but that doesn't mean you have to play it.
From the get-go, it's very clear that Edge of Eternity is a JRPG that takes a lot of inspiration from the formula laid by the genre's 90s classics. It tries to tell a story of epic proportions with some unexpected plot twists and several difficult themes: sickness, war, death - topics that demand a mature approach and it kinda succeeds in delivering all that. In hindsight, that's not that surprising to me as this approach has worked for Final Fantasy, which I believe is one of the if not the main source of inspiration for Edge of Eternity.
See, there's always an exotic planet, usually at peace at first, then some sort of world-shattering event happens and now there's conflict. There's always some sort of corruption that spreads through the world and puts everyone in danger. There's always some sort of magic involved. There are always some magical or mystical creatures that roam around in the world. There's always one main hero which with the help of the friends he makes along his journey will have to fight against these mystical creatures, stop the corruption, possibly find a cure and put an end to the ongoing conflict. Does that not sound familiar? Well, Edge of Eternity checks all of these boxes.
Heryon, this once gorgeous alien world where let's call them, humans coexisted and benefited from a technologically advanced alien race for years, now is in turmoil as the latter decided to well, murder everyone instead. They unleash what's called "The Corrosion", a deadly virus that turns everyone it comes in contact with into a techno-zombie. You’ll follow Daryon and Selene, two siblings, on their quest to find a cure to the all-consuming Corrosion in a grand tale of hope and sacrifice. See what I mean? But even though you've probably seen this story before and maybe even played through it, it doesn't mean that it's bad. No, as I said in the beginning, Edge of Eternity's story, how it unfolds, the twists that it throws your way, the playful banter between the party members, and the feel-good moments make up for a cool and enjoyable experience story-wise.
The gameplay, on the other hand, is a little rough around the edges. Like most modern JRPGs, Edge Of Eternity features an active-time battle system. The combat itself takes place on large hexagonal maps. When it's your turn, you can choose to move, attack, cast a spell, or use an item, the usual stuff. Moving around the map and positioning is really important here as attacking an enemy from his flank or behind them will result in additional damage. You might also have to move around to evade incoming powerful spells which will hurt you a lot. The maps can contain interactive environmental elements like a ballista you can use or a turret you can activate or some crystals which can heal, buff or nerf both your characters and enemies alike. From time to time, the game will introduce a new type of battle scenario which kinda helps in keeping things fresh. For example, you might have to use one or two characters to deal damage to a boss while another character deals with a lot of mobs that will just keep coming until the boss is dead. Another scenario might be to survive a couple of waves of enemies and so on.
But in the end, it all becomes too repetitive. A battle starts, you move around, start to attack either melee or cast a spell, wait for the enemy turn, rinse and repeat. Having also only access to two characters, Daryon who is more melee focused, and Selene who's a caster, for a long time doesn't help either. You will perform the same few moves, see the same animations, and hear the same voice lines over and over again. Luckily you can increase the speed of the encounters so you don't have to wait too long as encounters tend to drag when played at normal speed. Later as more characters join your party, you can mix and match attacks, spells, and items and it gets a little better. But it takes a long time until you reach that point.
When you are not in combat, you are free to roam around some extremely gorgeous environments and biomes. But apart from collecting raw materials, finding the occasional chest that has usually crap inside, and stumbling upon some cool movement-based puzzles, there isn't much to do. You can't jump or climb or swim or do or witness anything interesting. There's a large cute cat creature you can ride in the open world, but even that requires a couple of hard hours to unlock. Beasts walk around this open world and if you get too close to them, you have to engage in combat. So after a while of doing that, you will just entirely avoid them as the rewards you get are not worth the time.
Playing through the game, I experienced some questionable difficulty spikes that came out of nowhere. Suddenly, I had to fight a boss which with one simple attack took away more than half of my character's HP. Two hits and that's it. There is this boss fight that takes place inside a cave a couple of hours in where you fight a weird-looking creature and I simply could not beat it. Even after lowering the difficulty to the lowest option, I still had a hard time beating this thing. Now you might think that if I did not avoid fighting against the common enemies in the open world, that would level up my characters, unlock new skills, and whatnot. But that's not the case here. While you can equip various types of armor, progression is mainly linked to the weapons you use. Each weapon has its own skill tree you unlock as you level the weapon up. Once you unlock a skill tree, you then have to slot in different crystals that in turn unlock various passive buffs or spells and abilities. But each weapon can just go up to level 10 and the crystals you usually get from encounters or find in chests are, for lack of a better word, kinda shit. So even though you might have a level 10 weapon and have attached some crystals that increase your base stats and allow you to cast a spell or two, when faced with tough foes, you are out of luck.
There's a crafting mechanic where you can craft more powerful weapons, but finding the right materials takes a lot of time and is a chore to do. You can also combine multiple crystals into one, but what you get in the end is not worth wasting the crystals by combining them in the first place. Sure there are shops that sell stuff, but usually, the good stuff is way too expensive for you to afford. It's annoying, cause you want to play the game just to see where the story goes, but at the same time, you just want to quit playing due to the subpar gameplay.
Presentation is also a fifty-fifty deal. On one hand, the environments look absolutely spectacular with vibrant colors and interesting art design. While on the other side, the characters and monsters kinda look out of place in this world and have some real janky animations. I mean, I don't get it. What is up with this split in quality? After researching a little bit more about the studio behind the game, it all starts to make sense. Edge of Eternity is an JRPG made by a French studio of just 13 developers. I am sorry, but what? 13 french developers managed to create this epic JRPG?
That is seriously impressive and it somewhat justifies the amount of jank that's present in the game. But jank is still jank at the end of the day. While the story and scope are big and great, the dialogue is good especially when you play it with Japanase voice over and the open world itself is beautiful to see, the subpar gameplay, unbalanced combat and janky character animations make Edge of Eternity a little tough to recommend. If you have Game Pass you're in luck cause the game is available there day one. But if you're on other platforms, skip for now and wait for a sale. Thanks for reading.
The game was reviewed on a PS5 using a promo code provided by the publisher. Edge of Eternity is out now for PC, Playstation, Xbox and Switch.