I'm not playing Fire Emblem, but all the internet's energy had me thinking about picking up another JRPG. I didn't want to fire up Final Fantasy 15 again yet, so I kept digging through Steam to see what was around. And as it turns out, there's a little indie JRPG kicking around for a while that has filled the bill nicely.
It's called Edge of Eternity, a JRPG that raised $US161,000 on Kickstarter back in 2015. It's been toiling away on Steam in Early Access since last December, where it's currently available for $23.16.
The gameplay has a third-person vibe that's a reminiscent of Final Fantasy games, but the ATB-style combat is much more oldschool. It takes place on a hex-based grid, with characters then carrying out their attacks, spells and movement dependent from one hex to another.
The positioning is a bit awkward — your character will always face in the direction they moved, so if you don't have all the enemies directly in front of you, you'll always run the risk of opening up your characters to critical hits. But the open-world nature of the game means you can run around and start a combat with just one or two foes, instead of being forced to deal with entire groups at once.
There's some solid pedigree behind the game, despite the small headcount on the project. Yasunori Mitsuda of Xenoblade Chronicles and Chrono Trigger fame put together some orchestral music for the game. It's a nice accompaniment, although I wish there was more than the one battle track at the moment.
Story wise, there's a simple enough hook to get going. Daryon receives a letter from his sister Selene: their mother has contracted the corrosive disease spreading across the world, so Daryon abandons his post as a soldier to travel with Selene in search of a cure. Being a deserter, or a supporter of one, has serious consequences.
There's some neat progression with the skill system. While your character progression is fixed and entirely reliant on loot, each weapon you carry has a skill tree of its own with branching paths. You venture down these "paths" by collecting crystals of the relevant colour, and each crystal you pick up has varying powers and rarity of its own.
Adding more crystals also unlocks more spells and attacks for Daryon and Selene, most of which will have some kind of elemental influence. Apart from the usual weaknesses and resistances, the surrounding environment will also play a factor in strengthening or weakening certain attacks.
Different weapons will have entirely different skill trees and crystal requirements, so you'll need a huge stack of crystals to get the most out of everything. You've also got collective energy across Daryon and Selene that requires regular rest — but this is more like how far you can travel in a day, rather than something you need to actively worry about every 30 seconds. (Daryon does have a stamina bar that kicks in when you're running around, but it's easy to manage.)
Being early access, there's some obvious quirks. The game's performance at 4K was fairly jittery, but it's kind of necessary to play at the higher resolution: dropping the game to 1440p or 1080p took all sharpness out of the image, resulting in a bit of a muddy mess that was pretty unpleasant. Playing at 4K is undoubtedly the way to go, even if you have to tank the image presets to medium or lower.
Edge of Eternity plans to leave early access sometime next year, with major story chapters to be added every three or four months until the game's full release. There's around 12 or so hours of content to explore, not including any faffing about you do in the open world right now.
It's a bit janky, a little lonely and the voice-overs and models are nowhere near as polished as a proper Final Fantasy or something from a bigger publisher. But it's a nice love-letter to older JRPGs, there's some great background music, and the ATB system works really well. There's at least a year of development left, so that's not a bad base to build from.
Edge of Eternity is out on Steam now.