I have spent far longer than I care to admit trying to figure out how to start talking about Edge of Eternity, and I think that’s maybe the best summarization with my experience with the game I can have. There is so much here to enjoy and experience, but so many things prohibit me from enjoying it fully. To add to the polarization, I remember reading reviews of the PC game before I dove into this PS5 port, and some of the things I remember people disliking are what I actually enjoyed most! So with no further ado, I will now dive into the mud and do my best to do the justice this game does truly deserve.
This game starts off with a prologue cutscene, as most games obviously do, and right from this cutscene, I am invested. An alien race makes contact with the already populated world that we’ll soon inhabit, and the early stages of the relationship go well. The alien civilization provides gifts to show a level of peacefulness, asking for food and the ability to mine in return. Things then turn south when the aliens ask to take powerful crystals native to the new planet. The indigenous people refuse, and war breaks out. I’m here to say that you can sign me up for any story about colonization, especially if it digs into it. The cutscene ends with the introduction of the Corrosion, a bioweapon used to decimate the native population.
After the stage is set, you’re immediately tossed into the world of Daryon, the narrator and main character. He’s a soldier in the native army, stationed in an outpost with a few of his friends, including a girl who is clearly very enamored with him, constantly baiting him into and eventually succeeding with roping him into a date. We’re given only a few minutes with this squad, but I’m a sucker, and I’m already attached to this dynamic and the interpersonal relationships established. From there, we find out that Daryon’s mother is infected with the Corrosion, and while he’s processing this information, the outpost is attacked.
The gameplay tutorial takes you through the next little bit in which every single character you just met is killed in one way or another, and the game truly starts with Daryon going back home to see his mother and sister, who said she has a way to cure the Corrosion. For me, this took a lot of wind out of the sails. A bit lame, I agree, to judge the plot coming out of the literal tutorial mission, but I see that as more of a kudos to the writing of that tutorial mission, and I think the character writing, in general, is a strong spot for this game. Daryon is a soldier who saw his friends and begrudgingly accepted lover all die within the span of an hour! He’s going to be a rather bitter man, and it’s nice to see that carried forward. I’m not totally sure why I’m surprised at having strong characterization grapple with the tragedies the character has witnessed, but I did quite enjoy the writing not shying away from Daryon’s trauma, resulting in him being abrupt and obtuse to people. From there, though, I do think the story falls off and never quite regains its footing. You spend the next large amount of game time going on an adventure with your sister to cure your mother’s illness, with the overarching colonial war being more of a backdrop.
If nothing else, this game was made by people who love the genre but also want to see it move somewhere. It seems to be a reoccurring trend in my reviews that these games are love letters to the genres, but there are few things I love in any sort of entertainment media more than seeing the creators clearly wear their hearts on their sleeves when it comes to their creations. No matter the quality of the creation, I never want to take away from that. I say “move somewhere” because the combat is like nothing I’ve played before in a JRPG. It’s not entirely revolutionary, but it incorporates a bit of tactic into it, having grid-based combat and having the direction your characters face play a part as well (read: backstabs exist in this game). I know that this is not the first JRPG to have tactics combat, but this was the first time I’ve experienced this sort of implementation of it, and I quite enjoyed it.
The world itself plays a part in the combat, with different colored crystals that provide different types of combat buffs littered around the map. As a massive tactics fan myself, I couldn’t be happier with this combat system. Paired with the Active Time Battle (ATB) system, it provides an interactive combat system that requires deeper thought than “this element counters that enemy.” But with one compliment must come a criticism. Playstation 5 introduced some fantastic new controller functions, with one being adaptive triggers, which is to say that triggers now have resistance levels of a sort and are used accordingly, such as “lightly tap for one function, fully pull for another function.” Edge of Eternity decided to use this function for its exploration function that starts combat. Pulling on the right trigger propels Daryon forward, swinging his sword as he goes, initiating combat if he hits an enemy, and starting the encounter off with a bit of damage done to the enemies, or farming/collecting resources out on the map. I cannot think of any possible reason why this adaptive trigger function is used here and is nothing more than a supreme annoyance for me. Just let me pull the trigger and swing! I shouldn’t have to pull, feel resistance, and then pull harder. I am not reconsidering the sword swing in that one split second! I committed to the action when I began my trigger pull.
As for bugs, the game is a bit of a mess. I don’t think I made it through a single cutscene without some sort of clipping happening, with one cutscene having the entire backdrop not completely rendered in, which is not great for immersion! I couldn’t pay attention to the story because I was too busy staring at what should have been a nice mountainous background. In that same cutscene, one out of three characters also didn’t fully render, having the smoothest hand as well as the blockiest, edgiest dress I’ve ever seen. Just about every face I’ve encountered so far, outside of Daryon and his sister, Selene, look like they belong more on a PS3 than a PS5. I also found a bug when fleeing from combat; the animation would stutter and clip for the entire duration.
This bug isn’t really a big deal, it takes all 3 seconds, but one bug that did quite infuriate me is that if you let the game idle, which I am very prone to do with all my games, the screen goes darkish. This is fine and normal, happens in a lot of games. What doesn’t happen in a lot of games is when you pick the controller back up to resume playing, Edge of Eternity’s screen just stays dark. I had to save and restart the entire game to get some brightness back on my screen. Coupled with a bug I found, in which the menu straight up didn’t work until I backed out and went back into it, was a very annoying experience, which also while not technically game-breaking, sure was interest breaking. There was also at least one moment where the audio was only half working, which I never thought would really affect me, but it was very creepy to run around the world with absolutely no ambient sound.
All in all, I think there’s a lot to admire in this game, but I think those things will be more appreciated by a bigger JRPG fan than me. The bugs certainly don’t add to the experience, but bugs can be ironed out, and I wouldn’t call them a long-term worry, but maybe that’s a bit naively optimistic of me. I was rather sad to see what I thought to be a very interesting story get immediately derailed for something I was considerably less invested in. The combat is a definitive high point, but everything else is just a tad too heavy for the gameplay to carry singlehandedly.