When it comes to JRPGs, it’s hard to not honor some of the biggest franchises that have graced the world. It’s no secret that there also have been so many that have tried to capture some of that grandiose scale and wonder as well. As an avid fan of JRPGs in general I was recently intrigued by a rather promising JRPG that surprisingly comes from a very small studio. It’s apparent that Midgar Studio clearly has a fond love that a lot of us share for Final Fantasy so when I sat down to play Edge of Eternity for PC I couldn’t wait to see what was in store.
The story of Edge of Eternity follows the conflicts between an invading robotic alien force and the native inhabitants of Heryon. As the war raged on the invaders struck Heryon with a fatal disease called the Corrosion. After the opening act, our protagonists and siblings Daryon and Selene seek out the rumored cure that could save Heryon and its afflicted inhabitants. There is something about the whole devastating alien robots versus folks with magic and swords premise that comes off as an underdog story but it’s an age old classic and one many a RPG is founded on.
While Heryon is quite beautiful visually there are the underlying realities of war where young women and men are conscripted in a desperate attempt to win by numbers. Our idealistic Daryon has decided to change his fate and seek out another in a world that desperately needs a miracle. Of course there’s bound to be some opposition so what better way to do that with some strategy based combat.
Edge of Eternity utilizes hexagonal grids with rather large cells to accommodate a varying degree of enemy types including towering robotic ones. At first I thought that they were oddly oversized until I found out that you can have more than one party member in a cell at a time. Usually you can’t do this as the battle grids are made of much smaller grid patterns allowing for a single character. It was actually nice to see a different approach from a strategy RPG. One such reason for sharing a space is to get out of the way of an uninterruptible attack made known in advance with a lock icon on their ATB (or Active Time Battle) bar.
A majority of your party’s attacks will happen very fast with the only delay coming from when their turn comes around. However certain attacks such as spells like ones you see very early on take time to cast. On the opposite side of the attack coin some of these are interruptible which resets their casting time. This means that character positioning in Edge of Eternity is equally if not more important than what attacks to use and when. Attacking your foes from different angles like from behind can give you that much needed edge.
Unlike most strategy RPGs though I found that each battle did take a degree of strategy and you aren’t going to be burning though each fight in a desire to boost, not only your party member’s levels, but those of their weapons. While any given weapon’s levels by no means hits Disgaea’s meteoric proportions there is a bit of depth there as well. Each weapon is complete with their own skill trees which gain you skills and even spells. By placing different crystals, something that Heryon seems to be in no shortage of, you can gain different effects and bonuses to damages for instance. For those that really dig the finer details of damage output and resistances there’s room to play there.
Considering the roots behind Edge of Eternity’s creation, I’m really impressed with the level of detail found in Heryon’s world. When not in combat you get to explore the various locations that make up this world. You will encounter various enemy wildlife patrols as well as you explore them on foot or with your fluffy steed. The inevitable glowing resources from the world are key to the somewhat interesting crafting system. Full disclosure though, as crafting has never been my finest endeavors in the RPG genre as a whole but it varies from title to title. One small detail that I absolutely loved is that outside of chests you can pick-up any resource while still mounted on a Nekaroo. I know that’s a seemingly small feature but it’s a major one for someone like me who’s harvested their fair share of materials in MMOs.
Despite my mixed success at the crafting mechanics there were some issues such as lip sync and some awkward running/stepping in place animations that are noticeable even from the early acts of the story. That said it’s impossible to not love the Nekaroo, one of the cutest mounts I’ve ever seen this side of a Chocobo, and that’s saying something from someone that’s spent a LOT of time with MMOs over the years.
For me the RPG genre is full of stories to be experienced and Edge of Eternity definitely is full of mystery, charm and prophecy to fill an RPG fans checklist. This is a story of war, sickness and inevitably death but along the way you fall in love with the beautiful locales, the heart of its characters and the great score. The love that Midgar has for their inspirations shows and despite being a small studio has created something that is full of heart and well worth Nekaroo ride.