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Edge of Eternity

Edge of Eternity

Written by Eric Hauter on 2/10/2022 for PS5  
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It’s always a lot of fun in video games when you see a smaller studio take a really big swing and somehow, against all odds, hit a home run. That warm and fuzzy feeling of pride in a group of strangers has been my constant companion during my travels in Edge of Eternity’s beautifully rendered world, along with a the resounding, repeating thought “Oh my God, I can’t believe they pulled this off.”

Edge of Eternity started life as a 2015 Kickstarter by tiny French developer Midgar Studio. The tone and feel of the game confirm what the studio name implies; these folks are huge fans of Final Fantasy games. But while other small studios (with only 10 developers) might opt to produce a pixel-art 16-bit throwback JRPG, Midgar Studio elected to produce a modern 3D JRPG epic, complete with voice acting, a giant world to explore, tons of fun mechanics, and a cool, epic story. And I’ll be damned if they didn’t pull it off. I don’t say this lightly – I enjoyed Edge of Eternity more than I’ve enjoyed any Final Fantasy game in the last ten years. The people at Midgar Studio understand me, they know what I’m hungry for, and they are feeding it to me in gluttonously huge bites with Edge of Eternity.

To be clear, this game was made on a budget by a small team, so it’s important to keep that in mind while playing. There are moments when the lack of resources available to Midgar Studio creep through to the surface – a weird line reading here, an underdeveloped mechanic there. Some of the faces on NPCs are downright haunting when you get up close to them. But for every one of those moments, there is a glorious vista, an incredible monster design, a fantastically challenging battle.

It doesn’t matter in the end if Edge of Eternity sometimes doesn’t look quite right – with stilted animations or weird facial expressions. The game feels right, giving me that cozy comfort that I used to get from games like Chrono Trigger or Suikoden. This is a world that I simply enjoy existing in; I slip into this game like a warm pair of old slippers. Edge of Eternity also has one of the best openings I’ve seen in a game for quite a while, introducing what players might believe to be the primary cast only to…well…you’ve got to play the game and find out.

Edge of Eternity follows our primary protagonist Daryon, a young soldier conscripted into service in his planet Halyon’s fight with an alien race. It seems that the aliens (known as the Archelite) arrived on Halyon some years ago, and everything was sunshine and rainbows for a while. But suddenly, for reasons that the Halyon population can’t fathom, the Archelite suddenly turned on the planet, viciously attacking and unleashing a disease known as the “Corruption” upon the masses.

At the start of the game, Daryon receives word from his estranged sister that their mother has been infected with the Corruption. Leaving the army behind (which is not without consequences), Daryon travels home to meet up with his sister Selene, and the two of them venture forth to try to find a cure for their mother, figure out what is going on with the aliens, and stop the war.

Selene is a priestess, which gives her some spells to mess around with, whereas Daryon is a melee swordsman (though he also has a bit of magic up his sleeve). Though the siblings are a lone duo for quite a large chunk of the game, they do eventually meet up with some friends, fleshing out their party quite nicely. I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally picked up a ranged damage character, as Daryon had been tanking for his sister for quite a while and her heals kind of suck.

Edge of Eternity plays out much as experienced JRPG fans might expect. Daryon, Selene, and the gang wander around Halyon, following a main storyline while also diverting to investigate whatever side activities pull the player’s attention away from the mission at hand. For much of the game, the whole “alien war” thing takes a back seat, allowing the siblings to assist with whatever local situation bubbles up. Sure, there is an urgent need to find a cure and save mom, but that doesn’t stop them from clearing monsters out of mushroom caves for the local populace.

The combat in Edge of Eternity feels like a mixture between Final Fantasy VI and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. Each battle is fought on a grid of hexes, with character positioning being important to strategy. Characters can physically attack those in hexes adjacent to their own, but magic can be leveraged against more distant foes. In the early game, this primarily comes down to keeping glass cannon Selene away from monsters and letting Daryon take all the hits, but as you expand your party, other strategies begin to emerge.

In many cases (depending on your power relative to the baddies you are fighting), you can just spam attack against the bad guys to end the fight quickly. But Edge of Eternity is not the sort of game that will let you grind to the point where you can just stroll through the battles with your brain turned off. In every area you can gain a level or two, but then the experience you gain for battles starts grinding down to nothing, indicating that it’s time for you to clean up any leftover quests and move on to greener pastures. Players (like me) that enjoy being 10-15 levels above their enemies are in for a bit of a rude awakening.

I found myself really enjoying the combat in a way that I haven’t in many recent games. By carefully balancing progression with enemy levels, Midgar has created a situation that allows players to comfortably zone out to an extent, while still needing to keep some part of their brain engaged in case things start to go sideways. More than once, I strolled up to some trash mob thinking that I was just going to spend thirty seconds dispatching them, only to have them surprise me with some power I hadn’t seen before, resulting in a wipe. Luckily, Edge of Eternity has a pretty robust autosave system, so even when you get your teeth kicked in, it doesn’t hurt too badly.

As I mentioned before, there are a few mechanics that don’t seem to quite work as intended. The crafting system, for example, often allowed me to craft some seriously strong weapons, negating the thrill of finding any loot for the next several hours. A strange energy meter is present on the bottom right of the screen for the entire game, but after carefully reading how it worked, I realized that I could pretty much ignore it for the duration of the game. A system that has weapons leveling as you use them never seemed to quite gel with me; after opening up all of the available crystal enhancement slots, I didn’t see the point of leveling my gear further – the stats never seemed to change.

But these are minor quibbles in the face of what has been achieved here. Edge of Eternity in some ways manages to out-Square Square Enix, delivering a classic feeling game with modern visuals in a way that other developers seem unwilling to do these days. I would encourage anyone that loves the SNES through PS1 era of JRPGs to give Edge of Eternity a spin. Midgar Studios is a team that deserves success – and I would love to see what these folks could do with a bigger budget.There’s something to be said for a scrappy team that sets their sights on a goal and just gets things done. Edge of Eternity is first a stellar game; the fact that it was made by such a small team is secondary. That there is a new group in the world that is making this style of game is reason to celebrate. If this is any indication of the work they are capable of, the future looks bright for Midgar Studio.

While not every idea in Edge of Eternity fully gels, developer Midgar Studio gets enough right that the game feels familiar and welcoming – a fantastic classic RPG in modern clothing. With fun characters, a solid battle system, and just enough surprises to maintain the player’s attention, Edge of Eternity announces the arrival of Midgar to the top echelon of JRPG developers.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Howdy.  My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids.  During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories.  I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection.  I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.

My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then.  I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep.  Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS VR2, Quest 3, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan.  While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.

When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here

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