It’s been quite the journey for Midgar Studios’ Edge of Eternity, but with the console releases now out it feels like their mission to create a Final Fantasy-like experience with a modest team is finally at an end. We played the PlayStation version to check out the end result.
The road to get here hasn’t been easy for Edge of Eternity either. We first saw the game in action back in 2016, but there have been a few publisher switches since then. The game was with The Sidekicks (who published Splasher) first, then Playdius, and is now being published by Dear Villagers. The game also had a rather lengthy Early Access phase, but the final product is certainly impressive when you consider the size of the team.
Where Edge of Eternity struggles a bit is in whether it wants to be an epic scale adventure or something that starts off much slower. There’s a grand first act that involves a great war, but then the game switches gears and it’s a lengthy trek to get back to where the opening moments left off. Part of it is definitely that a lot of modern RPGs are keen to constantly keep us on the edge of our seats, but the change of pace is something to note.
What we were surprised to see is that Edge of Eternity is relatively barren, especially when you consider how lush the initial demo versions that we saw and played were. Many locations are still great to look at, but there is often very little to do in them, and there’s so much open space that you can choose to avoid combat if you want to. Our guess is that this is where Midgar’s ambitious plans ended up resulting in a situation where they had to compromise, and they didn’t want to shrink the game world into something smaller and more densely populated.
Although combat can be avoided, it’s a key gameplay mechanic that revolves around gauges that fill up to give you the equivalent of action points. In addition, there are gauges for magic and special attacks, and sometimes (optional) objectives force you to focus your efforts on specific enemies in a battle. It’s easy enough to grasp, but the gauges and selective focus can also hurt the pacing of the battles, which can feel slow.
Edge of Eternity leans into its fantasy inspirations with more than just its lush visuals though. When it comes to equipment, the role of magical crystals lets you customize your character’s strengths and weaknesses. You can customize your ‘loadout’ for specific encounters and objectives as well, so it’s a system that’s fun to play around with and a bit different from the usual loot process where you simply hope to pick up a stronger piece of armor every half hour.
At the end, Edge of Eternity was an ambitious project and Midgar pulled it off – more or less. They’ve proven that a small team can craft something that, at its best moments, looks and feels like a AAA Final Fantasy game, but ultimately also has its shortcomings. JRPG fans will be eager to forgive these as it’s an adventure worth playing, but for more casual fans there are richer experiences out there.