Eternal Edge by Righteous Weasel Games is a new open-world adventure role-playing game for the Switch and Xbox One. There’s no denying that Eternal Edge is heavily inspired by the Zelda series. Other than just the visual aesthetic, you’ll spend most of your time making your way through four dungeons; the main combat is swinging your sword and blocking, with the occasional bit of magic and the map has different seasonal regions in it like an ice place. Most of the game is in 3D but there are 8-bit dungeons that are viewed top-down like a more classic Zelda game. Unfortunately for Eternal Edge, being similar to a great series isn’t enough, especially when what is available in the game is not done particularly well.
The story is familiar. In the past there were Guardians known as Eternals, warriors with prowess in combat and magic who fought against the armies of darkness to protect the people of the land. Unfortunately they disappeared years ago leaving the two dimensions of light and darkness to spiral into a power struggle for control. Along came King Skeleton who has a floating castle positioned between the two dimensions. By using his armies of monsters that consist of four main factions; Goblins, Machines, Lycans and Undead – the King is slowly taking over the light. The people of the land are trying to cling to as much light as possible as it starts to dwindle, hoping for a hero to rise and save them. Unsurprisingly that’s where we step in, Cross, a member of a group of young warriors called The Royals who are trained by their master Edge to defeat the king.
The game starts with an attempt by The Royals to storm the floating castle and defeat the Skeleton King. Unfortunately also as you would expect it doesn’t go to plan. Your master is killed and you are thrown into prison. This is where the driving force of the game comes in. There are 4 cannons that shoot chains into the castle to bring it back to the land. They have been stolen by the 4 factions of evil and locked into separate towers. Edge visits Cross as a ghost to tell him he is now the eternal and his job is to defeat the evil King by travelling across the land, defeating the armies and recovering the lost chains.
You’ll spend most of your time in the game exploring the open world while completing quests, fighting enemies and leveling up. One of the more notable aspects is how you level up. This isn’t achieved by gaining exp but instead by collecting orbs called matrix that grant you a predetermined stat. Although there is always a place for unconventional level systems, there’s a reason why most stick to the conventional. The system of collecting matrices just feels wrong. After escaping from a ridiculously overpowered enemy in an 8-bit dungeon through corridors to get to a chest with a matrix in feels great. Similarly when you capture a fort full of brilliantly designed monsters and just about manage to defend it is empowering. At these points the level up feels well-earned and that makes it even sweeter. These examples are few and far between, the main ways you’ll find yourself leveling up are more mundane – trudging through a bland part of the world and opening chests with matrices just shoved in took away the satisfaction of working for your level. Sure on one hand these kind of chests are there to reward exploration, but instead the world should be filled with meaningful interactions. Plenty of games manage to make exploring feel worthwhile without tempting you with levels. As well as just feeling dissatisfied, it completely slowed down the first few hours of the game for me. There is mention in a tutorial conversation at the start that you can find matrices by exploring, completing missions and events but that really didn’t mean much to me. I didn’t know how exploring was rewarded, how to find missions or events. You’re given a mission to speak to the class master but you have to be level 10 to manage this, getting to that point took me much longer than necessary.
This isn’t helped by the awful map systems. The world map can’t be interacted with and is just a guide for quests, and the mini-map isn’t much better. It only shows a small circle of your current location and most of the time isn’t fully filled in because the game hasn’t loaded icons on to it. To make full use of it will require perfect vision, it’s so tiny and the icons are so hard to distinguish in a busy area.
You’re given the four missions to retrieve the chains from the different factions straight off the bat. I was excited by this, the opportunity to tackle the game in any order I wanted, until I realised this just wasn’t the case. The towers are actually in order of difficulty, so you could go to a harder one if you’re savvy enough even if the monsters are harder. But then when you actually try to enter a tower it is locked by level. Why have them all available and have the quest markers to actually encourage you to go there if you can’t actually go in. 8-bit dungeons are different, you can go to the harder ones whenever you want. This may seem like a bad idea but it is possible to beat them, again this highlights another major issue, the AI is real dumb.
You’ll quickly become use to enemies walking into and getting stuck in walls. Also if a crowd comes to attack you, if you continue to spam attack after attack, they will get stuck and be unable to move. I had one fight where the enemy was ridiculously overpowered compared to me but he got stuck in the wall and I hit him for a few minutes until he was dead. Most of the times that I managed to overcome the stronger monsters it was down to underhand tactics, making use of the games flaws to my advantage. Although this helped stave off frustration from being defeated after achieving a few levels in without saving (you have to go to campfires to save and the map doesn’t do a good job at sign posting their locations), it just took away any sense of achievement.
Enemy levels also make little sense in relation to your own. When I was level 8 I was regularly fighting enemies that were level 47. The only way to gauge whether you can manage to stay alive in an area is enemy levels, there are no other indicators, but they really didn’t mean anything, they just felt like numbers slapped on for the sake of it. Quests also had no indicators of what level you should be to handle them. I guess you could argue that you can manage any level enemy with the right strategy, and sometimes that is true, but then why are towers locked behind levels?
If you’re not fighting enemies that can one hit you, you can just spam potions since they’re so cheap. Magic also replenishes very quickly so MP potions seemed pointless. To be fair it doesn’t regenerate if you’re swinging your sword but I would often just run rings around enemies waiting for my spells to cooldown and my MP to fill up. It made it possible to beat stronger monsters with patience, just staying away from their attacks and pounding them with magic.
Those who love loot won’t be disappointed. Dead enemies will drop weapons, shields and armour regularly. Unfortunately there isn’t actually that much variation. Enemy types tend to drop the same stuff and there aren’t that many different types so you will be getting a lot of repeats. This is overcome by the combining system. If you have a duplicate of an item you can make one absorb the other, this both empties your inventory of useless equipment and allows you to level up one piece, making it more powerful. There are also a lot of different spells and they have a similar stacking system. The only downside to this is that there isn’t enough quick slots to put shortcuts to all your spells and abilities so a lot of them were left on the shelf in favour of my more preferred ones. There’s also a class system, it’s a bit bare bones but does a good job of making levels seem a bit more useful.
Performance issues manage to rear their ugly heads regularly. As well as regular fps slow down, loading times are far too long. On one hand this makes sense since it is a big open world, however regularly there will be in game loading of a couple of seconds when there’s a lot on screen. Several times while mid-fight the game would just stop for a few seconds while it loaded, this was either due to fighting in a big city or too many enemies were on the screen at once. I’d prefer each section of the map to be accessed through gates with loading times if it meant there weren’t regularly ones in game during intense moments. You’ll also see Cross clipping through structures often, there are entire areas where all of the buildings are more just images than hard surfaces, you can literally just walk through all the walls. Enemy health bars can also tend to stick around after their death, especially after losing an event.
I have a major gripe with the name, Eternal Edge. The opening cutscenes/mission reveals the reasoning behind the name. Your mentor, Edge, is immortal – which in itself is vague but in this world a warrior will be given eternal life while they have a mission to complete, on completion they cross-over (no pun intended) to the other side. Edge finds out the hard way his mission was not to defeat the Skeleton King but to train up Cross to complete the task. As he passes over, Edge tells you how you are now the Eternal and will continue to live until your mission is completed. This is enforced when you die, you get the option to continue on your quest or give up and go back to the home screen. Now all of this is fine, I thought it was a nice touch to explain away how the hero couldn’t die. When the reasoning is that he is eternal, and has every reason to spring back to life after death, why is it that when you die and continue your mission it takes you to your last save location and you lose everything you did after saving? Surely if he is eternal everything he did would cross (still not a pun) over after death.
At times I was genuinely blown away by the game, walking through an empty desert when a giant skeleton with no bottom half with a giant sword emerged from the ground ready to fight. There just seems to be poor attention to detail. The camera is fully moveable which takes away it awkwardly locking up but allows you to just clip through the ground and stare into the void. When you receive a new quest it is automatically set as your current quest, even if you have one highlighted. Bats fly through locked doors, enemies can shoot magic through walls and when standing at the edge of a room enemies will just disappear from the screen. There are also platforming elements, though jumping feels pretty bad as the button was often unresponsive. Lock-on also felt a bit odd, sure using it makes the camera lock-on to enemies but it doesn’t help with aiming spells. Also when you buy potions it doesn’t tally the price of multiples at the bottom until after you go to buy them.
Eternal Edge has a nice look about it, shiny mountains and fast flowing rivers are all pleasing to the eye but there’s no way to interact with the environment. When you walk through tall grass it just sways in a continuous loop, like Cross is a ghost and can’t have any tangible impact on his environment.
All of the games problems can be overlooked purely for the fact Eternal Edge has 4 player co-op. Playing with friends allows you to very easily forget about the problems seen throughout the game and makes purchasing this game worthwhile, but it doesn’t excuse the myriad of problems present.
What you have here is a lofty attempt by a developer to make their first title an unforgettable experience. However they’ve fallen short due to taking on more than they can chew and have made this unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. If anything I respect what they were trying to achieve, it’s just hard to overlook the many mistakes that I found throughout my time with Eternal Edge. I can say for certain that I look forward to seeing if they make anything in the future. You can’t deny that the developers heart was in the right place, there’s a lot of good things to find here, especially for the price. It’s guaranteed you’ll get your monies worth, but this just feels like a missed opportunity.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - /10
Graphics - /10
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