The release of a large and intricate JRPG by a small indie studio isn’t something that you hear about very often. In fact, it’s something that you basically never hear about. It should be pretty obvious as to why that is; I mean, come on, quality JRPGs—especially large-scale ones—take a lot of time, money, and effort. And, more often than not, it’s only the industry giants that have all three of those in excess… or any of those in excess. But, sometimes, you manage to make things work despite all of that and push out a game anyway. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen, because, hey, Edge of Eternity exists.
Midgar Studios, quite honestly, has a lot to be proud of. Given the game’s origin and the fact that the dev team appears to only consist of 10 people, I’m not sure how Edge of Eternity not only got off the ground but came to be the quality JRPG that I myself got to enjoy. I suppose that none of that matters, though. You just want to the juicy details, right? Well, let’s get on with it!
A Darkness Which Would Swallow the World
Man, I’m not even sure where to begin with Edge of Eternity‘s story. There’s a lot going on, and you can bet that plenty of that is thrown at you right away. The world of Heryon, though once entirely majestic, has been plunged into despair after being attacked ceaselessly by unknown alien invaders for years. While the threat of a worldwide alien invasion is terrifying enough on its own, the mysterious invaders have also brought with them an equally mysterious—and equally deadly—disease known simply as the “Corrosion.”
Desperate to win at all costs, Heryon’s conscription has seen it bringing in numerous young men and women straight into the battlefield as of late—such as protagonist Daryon—in hopes of winning with numbers. Unfortunately, however, these young soldiers generally meet their end quickly—a fate which Daryon seemed destined to meet himself, until he fought back against it, thus putting into motion a chain of events that would ultimately bring about permanent change to himself, his family, and his world.
I’d like to say that Edge of Eternity bites off more than it can chew in terms of story, but it really doesn’t. While the beginning feels a little overwhelming due to the sheer amount of large-scale back-to-back events that the game throws at you without pause, the rest of the game’s story is paced much more evenly. Sure, there are other portions of the game that are story-heavy as well, but, by that time, you’ve had several chapters to better understand how Daryon and his sister Selene behave and interact (both with others and one another), thanks to the game’s slow, steady, drip-feeding of story information to the player.
Edge of Eternity‘s sibling protagonists also works wonders for the game’s story overall. While they aren’t the only two party members you’ll get, they are the only two that you’ll have for quite some time (which is actually fairly strange for a JRPG of this magnitude), meaning that, for a good long while, they’re the stars of the show. Thanks to this, they both get plenty of time to not only naturally show various parts of themselves to the player, but to experience growth as well. This is especially true for Daryon, who is, in my opinion, arguably one of the best uses for the “edgy teenage boy protag” that I’ve seen in a long time. Having been preparing to go to war for most of his life and having seen unimaginable horrors before even reaching adulthood, Daryon’s strange irritability, slight emotional ineptitude, and occasional obsessive insistence on helping certain individuals (although not in the same way that Selene wants to help people) are all very clearly indicative of the life that he’s lived up to this point. He’s a very well-written character, and I had a lot of fun (and the occasional bout of heartbreak) watching him interact with the world.
A Storied Journey
With a name like “Midgar Studio,” I bet you thought that Edge of Eternity was going to be something along the lines of a Final Fantasy game—more specifically, Final Fantasy VII. Honestly, I did too. But that’s not what we ended up getting here. Regardless of what the initial intent may be, there’s no way of getting around it—edge of eternity plays more like Xenoblade Chronicles than anything else.
Edge of Eternity is a tricky little thing. …Okay, it’s actually not very little. But it is tricky. You see, if all you’re doing is following the main quest, the game probably isn’t super-long. But I wouldn’t know. Because I, just like many of you out there, fell for this game’s one-two-punch of entrapments known as “subquests” and “free-roaming areas.” Unless you’re dead-set on speedrunning this game (which I absolutely would not recommend), you’re never going to end up where you’re supposed to be going immediately.
Much like the aforementioned Xenoblade Chronicles, this game revels in its ability to throw huge, sweeping, explorable areas and heartily invites players to find the many goodies within. You’ve got monsters to fight, materials to gather, locations to try to enter prematurely, and even puzzles to solve. Add all of this onto the fact that the game will oftentimes have you backtracking across a specific area a few times, and you’re all but guaranteed to (purposefully) get lost along the way at least once or twice. Oh, and you can also ride around on giant cats called Nekaroos, so that’s pretty neat.
Most of what Edge of Eternity has to offer was legitimately enjoyable. I will, however, say that there were a few things that I wasn’t 100% enthused over. Among said things, crafting was probably the biggest issue. Before continuing, I’ll make my stance clear; I’m a little iffy when it comes to implementing big crafting systems into JRPGs. I think that it can be done correctly, but most of the time, it isn’t. Edge of Eternity, as far as I’m concerned, isn’t quite there just yet. Accruing recipes is a strange process, as you can literally obtain about 20 at a time, which utterly stifles your ability to make everything that you need—or at least want—to. There’s also currently no item index or bestiary of sorts that tells you where you can find everything. Because of this, you’re stuck either meandering around to places you have access to or, in some cases, just giving up. It’s not a lost cause; it just needs some more tweaking.
Through Blade and Bone
While I couldn’t help but think of Xenoblade Chronicles when it came to Edge of Eternity‘s exploration-centered mechanics, combat is a different beast altogether (if you’ll excuse the pun). Borrowing bits and pieces from several pre-existing JRPGs to create something new, fights in Edge of Eternity best come across as something that sits pleasantly in between Final Fantasy and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. While combat is ATB-based (a-la FFVII and more) and characters are quite obviously divided into different “classes,”
Edge of Eternity places a huge emphasis on character positioning as well. Because of this, it’s important to keep a constant eye on where your party members are so that they aren’t just capable of hitting enemies, but don’t end up being overwhelmed by swarms of baddies before they can get away as well. Because of this, and the fact that Edge of Eternity seems to push back against players who like power-leveling, many battles—even ones against lower-leveled opponents—aren’t the typical bloodbaths that you’d come to expect from many other JRPGs. Most of them require at least a modicum of strategy. They’re a little slower when compared to standard battles in other JRPGs out there, but I’d say that they’re more fun for it, too.
Edge of Eternity has not only met, but surpassed my expectations in every way imaginable. It goes beyond simply being a “love letter to the classics” and has the potential to eventually become one itself someday, given that it gets a little bit of polish here and there (which I’ve already heard that it will be receiving, at least in part). In a gaming landscape that seems to have largely given up on many of the more traditional JRPGs, it’s nice to see that there are others out there who insist on keeping it alive—and it’s encouraging to see that they have the means to see things through.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC; Publisher: Dear Villagers, Maple Whispering Limited; Developer: Midgar Studio; Players: 1; Released: October June 8, 2021; ESRB: N/A; MSRP: $29.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Edge of Eternity given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.