Funded in 2013 via a Kickstarter campaign, the development of edge of eternity it has been long and troubled, it is no coincidence that the product has disappeared from our radar several times and then shown itself to be deeply modified with each subsequent appearance (we talked about it in detail in the preview of Edge of Eternity). After spending a few years in Early Access on Steam, the role-playing game strongly inspired by the Final Fantasy saga finally arrives also in the console universe, but as we’ll soon see, not everything went exactly as we hoped. Buckle up and get ready to recite with us the authentic love letter from the French team of Midgar Studio dedicated to the timeless JRPGs released at the end of the 90s.
A mix of current affairs, medieval fantasy and science fiction
Featuring a deeply dramatic storyline, Edge of Eternity is set in an alternate reality where medieval fantasy meets science fiction. Three decades before the events told by the main campaign, the remote and not too developed planet Heryon came into contact with an alien race in possession of very advanced technology and which at least initially was shared with the population, allowing it to prosper. . The situation changed completely when the Archelites arrived from space they suddenly became hostile and tried to take over the whole celestial body.
Although almost helpless against the destructive power of the guests, who in the space of a single night proved capable of wiping out a nation, the people of Heryon still decided to try to resist. As a result, all of the kingdoms that survived the first attack came together under the banner of “The Consortium”, an alliance with the means to deal with the dreaded alien threat. After years of sacrifice and untold slaughter, an initially disadvantaged Heryon then took over, forcing the enemy to unleash their most devastating weapon on the planet: Corrosion. an unstoppable disease that turns the infected into self-controlling and quite violent chilling monsters. Thirty years have passed since then and in the meantime the inhabitants of Heryon had to fight a battle on two fronts: if on the one hand the so-called “Sanctorium” tried to stem the number of infected people and to find a cure for the disease that continues to spread like wildfire across the planet, on the other hand the Consortium army continued to fight desperately on the front line to repel the Archelite invaders.
The hero of the story, Darion, is one of many youths who have enlisted to protect Heryon, unaware of the corruption that plagues the Consortium’s upper echelons. In order to put an end to the war which has lasted for three decades, Daryon’s superiors have indeed decided to sacrifice the boy and his companions in a terrifying magical ritual.
Surviving almost by chance the betrayal of his superiors, the male protagonist of Edge of Eternity therefore decides to desert and join his younger sister, who, as we discover in the first bars of the adventure, takes care of her mother now suffering from the disease. . Having spent eight years at the Sanctorium, she is not only pretty but stubborn Selene she became one of his most skilled priestesses, but even gained the means to slow Corrosion’s symptoms. Reunited, the two brothers then set off on a journey to find a permanent cure and return to poor Heranna before the virus can completely consume her.
Net of a beginning not quite convincing and a little patched up, over the hours, the plot of Edge of Eternity is linked, giving the player valid reasons to persevere until the titles of codi. In the Approximately 30 hours needed to reach the final (which can become 50 and more if you indulge in the many optional activities and boring recovery quests), we sometimes came across the classic topos of the playful genre, but the themes addressed by the story and the discreet characterization of the characters have prevailed over the lack of originality of the product, always keeping our curiosity at the highest. Also because, compared to the JRPG which is clearly inspired by it, the absence of the hated endless dialogues betrays the purely European origins Edge of Eternity, providing the user with an enjoyable and not too demanding experience.
Like chess in the Nexus
Moving on to the playful setting, Edge of Eternity uses a turn-based combat system regulated by Active Time Battle (ATB), to which, however, various mechanics typical of tactical role-playing games have been added. First of all, it should be noted that the fights are not random, but are triggered when the swordsman Daryon comes into contact with the monsters, robots and countless wild creatures that populate the various maps and are always visible.
At the end of the not so instantaneous transition which separates the exploration phase and the combat phase, a group composed of up to four out of six playable characters is therefore trained on a grid divided into several hexagons which take the name of Link. Characterized by an almost always isometric vision, the confrontations acquire a strategic value that should not be underestimated, because the actions of the protagonists and their opponents are mainly dictated by the position. During its turn, in fact, each unit can use normal attacks, special techniques or objects, but above all it can decide to spend the action in progress to move from one Nexus to another, depending on the situation. and his class. . Note that if melee fighters can only attack targets in adjacent squares and must therefore get as close as possible to the objectives, on the contrary magicians are free to strike even at a certain distance. However, since magicians tend to be quite vulnerable when preparing spells, it is extremely important that more robust companions stand between them and enemies.
However, there are also other reasons for changing positions frequently and always paying close attention to the terrain. Self switching from one Nexus to another avoids most enemy attacks including Area Death Assaults (which usually involve up to three or four different squares), this mechanic can also be used to set traps or activate special weapons that sometimes lie dormant on the grid.
Depending on the location, it is not uncommon to come across magic cannons or crossbows which, once activated, they cause elemental damage and not only to all targets placed inside the targeted squares. A rather useful mechanism, which during our test we used for example to defeat the weakest groups of opponents and concentrate the group members on the only main threat. Also thanks to a difficulty curve that reaches significant peaks during the campaign, but can still be adapted to your needs via the settings (there are actually four different challenge levels and other elements that influence the balance of difficulty), overall the battles of Edge of Eternity are more than satisfactory.
The only real flaws in the combat system are to be identified in the dubious report of the developers of restore fighters’ HP and MP at the end of each fight, making buying and using healing items pointless, and excessively slow. During Edge of Eternity disputes, we noticed a lot of dead moments, which is why even the most mundane fights tend to take a long time. As a result, long gaming sessions (and especially grinding sessions) can get quite nerve-wracking.
What didn’t completely convince us was the character and weapon growth system. While Daryon, Selene and the other Edge of Eternity heroes have predefined classes and they automatically acquire new skills as they level up, it is not the same with their instruments of death. Salvageable from chests or craftable through a damn poor crafting system, even weapons level up with experience and with each upgrade they gain a slot to place a crystal in.
Divided by color and category, there are many of them and each of them allows you to equip the protagonists with special techniques or ominous elemental spells; nevertheless the limitations which prevent, among other things, the insertion of two or more crystals of the same color in individual weapons, without underestimating the need to start over at level 1 each time you obtain a new sword or a scepter, encourage the player to change the instrument of death wielded only if strictly necessary.
Eternity beyond the expiration date
Net of a few passable flaws, on the playful and narrative level Edge of Eternity behaves even better than expected, but it is on the technical level that the title is excessively lacking.
Developed with the underperforming Unity graphics engine, Midgar Studio’s second work suffered from the many years of delays in reaching the PC and consoles it was released on, looking pretty darn outdated even by last-gen standards. Although the landscapes seemed to us to be varied enough, which greatly benefited the exploratory component, the textures are still too sparse, poor in detail and almost completely static. An equally bleak situation is felt on the polygonal front, with models sometimes oversized and affected by animations so wooden and rigid that they are punctually against nature.
During our test, we also encountered a wide range of graphical glitches, freezes, and even cases of much more serious crashes, clear signs of a hasty and largely improvable optimization on PlayStation 5.
On the other hand, we appreciated Midgar Studio’s choice to introduce two different graphics modes on the latest generation machines, Quality And Performance, which as usual prioritize resolution or frame rate. Only applause, however, for the soundtrack composed by Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Xenogears), who once again delighted us with sumptuous and inspired pieces, as well as careful to accompany the tones taken from time to time by the narration with absolute precision.