EDGE Review (PC)

Game Review: EDGE
Release: August 11th, 2011
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Two Tribes (PC port), Mobigame (Original developer)
Available Platforms: PC, Mac, iOS
Players: 1
MSRP: $7.99 PC/Mac, $2.99 iOS
ESRB Rating: N/A

EDGE is a platformer with some puzzle aspects. You control a cube which you… roll? Flip? however cubes move… around a basic geometric landscape. The whole world is a series of grey cubes suspended in space that you navigate and climb to reach the finish line. Your score is determined by three factors, your speed, how many times you “died” (were crushed by moving platforms, or fell off the landscape), and how many “prisms” you collected. Prisms are colorful cubes scattered along the way, some on your direct path, others tucked away in hard to reach nooks or peaks.

You can roll your cube up and over one square height of the world, allowing you to climb certain areas like stairs, which contributes to the platforming aspect of the game. EDGE features 58 levels, the first ones starting out nice and simple, with more and more techniques and layouts being added as you go. The platforming will become more complex, adding in complicated moving platforms, and requiring you to hang onto blocks that act as conveyor belts, which you do by quickly tapping the same directional movement key.

The basic mechanic of the game is slightly fun, though a bit on the basic side. The most fun aspects of the game come from the unique way that the developers use the landscape. The base unit of the world is a single square cube, just like the unit you control, and they use these cubes to develop all sorts of neat objects, such as stairs that tessellate upwards, or moving platforms that represent big robots. Even 35 levels into the game I was still seeing neat and new tricks.

One thing I never noticed when playing the iOS version (because I was always listening to my own music) was the music. EDGE features 18 tracks, which as individual tracks are really good, but are very lacking as a composition. There is no theme or consistency to them, one track will be a mellow, up-beat tune, and will then be followed by a spooky sounding track, and then something that most closely resembles techno. It’s actually off-putting to hear the transition, I would prefer to see some sort of track options in the game.

Unfortunately the aspect that should be the most fun, the platforming, isn’t quite there. EDGE is a port of an iOS game , where you move the cube by dragging your finger in the direction you want to go. On the iPhone and iPod Touch it works great, however when transitioned to a keyboard, its not as intuitive. First of all, the game is presented in a tilted isometric perspective, which means the keyboard controls don’t move you as expected. It’s not like Mario where pressing right moves you right; since the perspective is shifted, the cube actually moves in diagonals, where the arrow keys/WASD on your keyboard are not. So pressing right doesn’t move you right on screen. It’s pretty disorienting, and there is no way to easily change the controls (besides opening the .ini files and doing it yourself). But besides the awkward viewpoint, the controls also seem finicky. Sometimes you will roll one block farther than you wanted to, or when hanging on a moving block you will not drop in time and get brought back. It just does not feel as solid on the keyboard as it did on the touchscreen, and that is a problem. The developers have said on the Steam Forums that they are going to address the controls and hopefully it will get ironed out.

There are also a good helping of other bugs. Checkpoints will sometimes spawn you in a situation where you die immediately and force you to restart, or you will roll on the finish line and nothing will happen. It’s quite frustrating to make it through a complex level only to find out you have to quit and try again. There are also less problematic, but still annoying issues, like for some reason a lot of checkpoints will spawn you one block in front of a prism, so you have to roll back to get it, and then roll forward and continue on your way. On harder levels, where you might have to try a section over and over, this gets tedious.

The absolute most frustrating thing however, is that the game’s most difficult moments are all derived from randomness. For example, you will be rolling along a set of blocks that flip over each other in a straight line, and you will follow this pattern for a series of moves, then out of nowhere, with no hint given by the game either directly or indirectly through the level design, one block will move right instead of straight and you will roll right off. This type of design is very frustrating because it doesn’t use the game’s mechanics or lessons to help the player; it just throws in arbitrary elements to lengthen the game.

PC gamers are like that kid in high school who took out his binder, calculator, and pens, and lined them up all straight and neatly. They like to be precise, they like to fiddle, they like their way and they don’t care about much else. Unfortunately EDGE doesn’t let PC gamers have their way. If you open the options menu you are greeted with a very basic selection of items. Music and Sound Effects only have an On/Off toggle, and there are no graphical settings at all (besides choosing Fullscreen or Windowed). These options might have been good enough for a mobile game, but for a PC port that costs more than double the original, it’s not enough. Two Tribes has handled some other recent ports of mobile and arcade games, which left me expecting a bit more attention to detail than this.

The game promises great high definition visuals and effects for the PC port, and it looks quite nice in videos. On my PC it’s a very different story. In windowed mode it looks okay at best, and in fullscreen it’s a blurry jittery mess. I have an 8800GT, so I’m not pushing any measly hardware, especially for a indie platformer. Again, the developers of the port, Two Tribes, have stated they are working on a patch. (Let me note that this is not a very common issue, I have only seen one other user complaining about this.)

For right now, though, I recommend trying the demo first, and seeing if you like the feel. For $8, it’s a little too unpolished to say it’s worth a buy. EDGE on iOS garnered pretty high reviews, averaging around 85%, and when I originally played it on iOS in 2008, and I would have agreed. But now when I play it on a full fledged PC, I have higher expectations. It’s a nice game, but EDGE does not really offer anything special. When you port an iOS game, which obviously has to have limited mechanics due to the control scheme – to a PC, which offers the most versatile and complex control scheme possible – you notice the simple beginnings it came from.

EDGE is available for Steam and the Mac App Store for $8 ($7.19 on Steam as a 10% release discount). A free expansion called “EDGE Extended” will be coming out soon, and will add 30 new levels (and will be a premium upgrade for iOS). You can get the game from Steam here.

+ Nice art style
+ Lots of neat tricks done with the environment
– Basic platforming and puzzle mechanics
– Lots of bugs, ranging from technical to gameplay-oriented

Final Score: 6/10

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,