A MacGuffin, in fiction, is a device used by writers to introduce an event, or working as a device that sets in motion the start of a plot. For example in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the ark of the covenant is the MacGuffin, as it sets the hero on his quest. This device becomes unimportant in the grand scheme of the story but usually pops up to make an appearance towards the end. Made popular by Alfred Hitchcock, it’s something that has become commonplace in all media.
In Edge of Reality, we start with a MacGuffin. In fact, it’s the object that leads our hero on a strange quest and adventure.
The visual novel format seems to be all the rage at the moment. On the Xbox store alone there is an ever-growing collection of them, building out the library of many gamers. Full of the most intriguing stories, easy Gamerscore, and some lively cartoon visuals, as well as a cheap and cheerful price, there can be much to love. Edge of Reality is a decent example of just that, especially as it costs the same as a fancy coffee. But what does this game offer in terms of story?
Well, you play a young man named Dan who is running a pawnshop in a fictional city; a place that could well be any from a bunch in Europe. You are having a normal day when an exotic woman arrives full of mystery and intrigue. She wants you to have a brooch that you can sell (hence the MacGuffin). When another more sinister stranger appears and asks for the brooch, you and the lady (who has now changed her appearance) go on a detective journey to try and find out who the sinister man was and why he wants the item in question.
The story takes you across the city, meeting different people and asking them a variety of questions. You break into a museum and find some ancient scrolls that might give you some answers, before interviewing people in hope they know who this sinister being is. Eventually, you are led to the truth, the outcome determined by the choices you make in the game.
The gameplay is very simple and follows the tried and tested “Choose your own adventure” format. You will have a couple of choices in each interaction you have with varied folk and the direction you may wish to go, and this will then determine the ending you might get. It’s not the most immersive of games but I quite enjoyed the simple tale and the world I got to wander around for a brief moment.
I like the drawings that accompany the story throughout. The character design is sharp and the lighting is bright, with vivid colours in all locations. The design of those locations themselves is simple enough, but it all comes together to aid the textures of the story throughout.
The soundtrack is very good too, mixing drama and a quite jazzy atmosphere. If you look at the press blurbs that accompany release, it’s that which is one of the main selling points of Edge of Reality, and you can understand why.
Edge of Reality is a short game and your first playthrough will be done and dusted in just over an hour or two, depending on how fast you read. You are able to crack through another playthrough to see the different endings too, but I personally found my initial time with the game to be the best. Whatever plays out, a good story is told, one with some intriguing characters and plot lines. Just don’t expect it to go blowing your mind. And it must be said, the gameplay choices are very simple with just binary choices to take in; most of the time you will just be carried through the narrative.
If you’re after a new story and have run out of books, then Edge of Reality could be for you.