I love an RPG. It doesn’t matter which flavour – ARPGs, tactical RPGs and all the rest get equal love here, but if I had to choose one type to play, above all others, it would be a JRPG. I have spent more hours than I care to recall playing Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana and so on, and so when news reached that a new game was on the way, I was all over it. Coming from Midgar Studios, a self confessed bunch of JRPG fans, funded after a successful Kickstarter campaign, my interest piqued in Edge of Eternity even more. After releasing back in 2021 on PC through Steam, it’s now been granted a release on the Xbox and PlayStation platforms.
The story of a JRPG has to be just right in order to hook you in, get you invested in the characters and ultimately keep you playing. The story on offer here in Edge of Eternity is a great one, but it is one that I won’t go into too much detail about in order to avoid spoilers. What I can say is that the story revolves around a brother and sister who have taken different paths in their lives. Daryon is a soldier, and his sister Selene, a Priestess trained in the magical arts. So we have a mage, and a tank. So far, so JRPG.
The world in which they live is called Heryon, and some time ago, an alien race appeared in the skies above their cities. At first all was well, but then the invaders decided that the way forward was to have a war. This was bad enough, but in a pretty much despicable move, the invaders released a disease called The Corrosion, which is always fatal, but not before turning its victims into twisted monstrosities. Daryon receives a letter from his sister, telling him that their mother has caught The Corrosion, but that she may be onto a cure. The path is therefore set.
So, the story arc is set, and it’s a big one. How about the way that the game looks? This is less vital than the story, to be honest, as the greatest examples of the JRPG art are older games, like Final Fantasy VII. However, in this sense, Edge of Eternity has been a surprise.
The areas that the game is set in are quite large, if discrete; the landscapes and backdrops to these are very nice to look at indeed. It’s all helped that the characters are also very well designed, and have their own unique personalities, each of which come out in the way they behave. In design, the Edge of Eternity reminds me of Final Fantasy 12 a lot, with a similar kind of setup to the main screen, running around quite happily, and the various creatures in the landscape minding their own business until you tread on their toes.
Sound wise the presentation is on point as well, with the usual kind of JRPG sound effects in the battle screen, and a beautiful soundtrack composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, the composer responsible for Chrono Trigger (another of the all time great JRPGs) and Xenoblade Chronicles. The voice acting of the characters is also worthy of praise, as they do manage to portray a depth to the people that you meet, especially those that you can recruit (no spoilers!). So, all things considered, there can be a big tick placed in the column for presentation.
Now, onto the meat of things and as usual in these titles, Edge of Eternity is another one of those games of two halves, split along the combat/non combat phases almost 50/50. Well, assuming you want to fight everything you come across anyway. As a little light grinding goes a long way, why wouldn’t you?
I’ll cover the combat side of things first, and the system that Midgar Studios has created is very engaging indeed. It is a turn-based system with an Active Time Battle (ATB) element, but also has some strategic overtones. What this translates into is a regular turn-based battle, where you can choose to attack, defend, use an item, magic or summons as usual, but it is also a system where your positioning on the battlefield can have an impact. If you manage to manoeuvre your way behind an enemy, you can launch more devastating attacks, and deal extra damage. But beware, as the enemies can also do this to you.
As with any good JRPG, getting stronger allows you to do more damage and make the most of some of the more spectacular attacks, and so the whole fighting system is really good fun to get to grips with. One word of warning however: pay attention to the levels of the enemies you encounter, if they are a lower level than you, then usually victory is a foregone conclusion. If however they are as much as one level higher than you, the result is usually that of a complete stomping and a trip to the game over screen. Pick your fights, is basically my pro tip there. Of course, going back to earlier areas will result in you being almost godlike.
In an interesting move, when you do battle, not only do the characters gain XP, and level up, but so do the weapons that you use. As the weapons get higher levels, more slots unlock on them that allow you to seat crystals. And what do crystals make? That’s right, magic attacks and spells! There is a whole crafting subset linked to the crystals, where they can be fused together to make better ones, and with the equivalent crafting trees for armour and weapons, there is always a reason to gather the resources you find when exploring.
The other focus of Edge of Eternity is pretty much covered by everything else that is involved in moving this adventure forward – whether that be crafting, exploring or just talking to people. And there has certainly been a lot of work gone into this; something you can tell straight away.
The only problem with trying to describe a game this big and complex in a single paragraph is figuring out what to leave in, and what to take out – there is a system for sleeping in an inn, for instance, where you can choose to eat food that will give you buffs for the next day, and will also let you talk to your companions and get to know them better. There is a lot more to discuss, but suffice it to say that Edge of Eternity’s systems are well designed, well thought out, and make perfect sense.
This isn’t a perfect game, however, but thankfully the annoyances are few. There are some weird graphical glitches, such as when we meet a character called Myrna, whose skirt appears to have a life of its own, floating up in front of her face and then clipping into the floor. The running animation of Daryon is a little odd too, and the two-tailed cats that you can ride are just too cute for words. The aforementioned enemy spikes are also quite tricky until you learn what you can deal with, but that’s all standard JRPG fare. You didn’t go and fight Emerald Weapon at level 10, after all. A high note is that Quick Resume works perfectly on this title, and just switching the Xbox off when you are late for work (just plucking an example out of the air there) saves your progress for next time you play.
I have no hesitation in recommending Edge of Eternity. It is a huge game, but more importantly, it has an epic story to be told. The combat system has some nice touches which keeps it fresh, and the crafting is deep and immersive. This is a game that many will be playing for days and weeks on end, with Midgar Studios needing praise for creating something special. If you like an RPG, you owe it to yourself to play it.
Edge of Eternity is available to download from the Xbox Store