Eternal Edge Review (Switch) – “Eternally Glitched”

Eternal Edge is a title that appeared on the eShop shortly before the game’s release. Prior to this, I had no knowledge or idea the game even existed, and it was puzzling that no press covered this game. Based on just screenshots alone, the game immediately seemed like 3D Zelda-esque experience, utilizing a visual style to that of 3D Dot Game Heroes. So how does this indie fare for Switch owners?

Eternal Edge is a 3D action-adventure RPG where you play as Cross, an apprentice of a group of Royals being trained by the legendary knight, Edge. The world has been overrun by the Skeleton King and his minions, controlling each of the four continents of the region. Edge vows to put a stop to this with the help of his trainees. Unfortunately, things go south and Edge falls in battle with the Skeleton King, and Cross takes a beating as well. Before regaining consciousness, Cross speaks with Edge stating that he’s the chosen one to put an end to the Skeleton King and reunite the kingdoms. It’s a suitable storyline, andenough to keep you engaged to see everything unfold.

Eternal Edge is a 3D action-adventure RPG very much akin to Zelda. Throughout the land, there are four key locations where dungeons await to be conquered, and get you one step closer to facing off against the Skeleton King and restoring peace to the land. Throughout the game, you can either play it solo, or play it in 4-player local co-op (single screen). As Cross, you will have quests to tackle across the land, while looting gear and learning new skills. The first thing to note about leveling up is that this is not your standard “earn XP and level up” system. Instead, it uses a rather unique approach that has you level up by acquiring a Matrix. Each Matrix levels you up and chooses a random attribute to increase your stats in, such as life, magic, attack, defense, etc. Completing both main quests and side-quests will net you a Matrix, as well as some that are hidden in chests across the land. Also, there are hidden dungeons called “8-bit Dungeons” that transform the game into an overhead perspective like the original NES Zelda. It’s a very cool homage, and honestly some of the most entertaining moments in the game.

As you progress, you learn about the four dungeons that need to be conquered to anchor down the floating fortress where the Skeleton King resides. While the game lists all four dungeons as quests at once, you still need to complete them in a proper order. You can tackle the quests in their respective lands leading up to the dungeon, but once you do, you will see that you need a certain number of Matrices to unlock the door. It almost feels like “what’s the point?”, but it does leave things open for the player to try and earn extra Matrices to level up more. While trying to become as powerful as possible is key, learning the game’s inventory and management system is a bit of a chore. The inventory system uses the analog sticks to highlight the item in the selected tab, the d-pad moves along the tabs, and the L/R buttons switch between the Map and Inventory sections. Items fill the slot in the order they’re acquired, but unfortunately, there is no way to sort items. You will be combining duplicates of weapons and gear to level them up, but the lack of any sorting just makes this feel incomplete.

In terms of the games environments, they are a mixed bag. Some locales are enjoyable to explore, while some (like Rage City) are more of a chore to navigate through. In terms of combat, the game has you map out weapons and magic to the face buttons, while the shoulder buttons will lock-on and allow you to jump. Combat is adequate and feels like an old-school 8-bit style, while being a 3D space. I do appreciate the fact they added a camera lock-on. However, camera control can be a bit wonkyand the lack of an invert Y-axis option is a shame. The camera was at its worst when facing off against bosses. I found myself fighting with the camera just to focus on the massive bosses.

Unfortunately, this is a game that certainly needed more time in the oven, and the slight issues mentioned earlier are nothing compared to these. First off, the game’s main menu always highlights “New Game” after pressing start, with a warning message saying the file will be erased if you start a new game. Oddly, the game does not automatically highlight “Load Game” once having a save file created. Seeing that the game only has one save file, it seems like a very easy mistake to make if you’re in a rush to just load your game. Next, the loading times. This is something the developer notified me about, stating that load times are currently a bit long when loading into the open-world area. At first, this wasn’t too bad, but it seemed the farther I got into the game, the longer the load times were when going back into the open-world. There were times I thought my game froze from loading, but eventually would kick in. Now, long load times are one thing…however, load times mid-gameplay are not okay. There were numerous instances where the game would stutter and load mid-gameplay. One particular area was in the Main Street village. When trying to rid the area of enemies, the game was constantly stuttering and loading that it was borderline unplayable. Another instance had me walking into and through a completely void village, then stop and load while running through, and all the NPCs and objects would instantly appear. Another issue is the game’s mini-map. Everything on the mini-map is so far zoomed out, and all the icons are miniscule to even read on there.

What on earth is going on with the texture mapping of that “staircase”?

The next biggest issue I experienced were event bugs. Several times during my playthrough, I experienced glitches that had certain cutscenes or events fail to occur. The first occurrence was in the beginning of the game when escaping a prison cell.There is a cutscene that should occur when running into a group of enemies. Well, the cutscene would start, but no dialogue would appear and the game would be frozen in place. I had to reload my save, and same thing happened again. Then I rebooted the system and loaded it, still same results. By the fourth time reloading my save file, the cutscene then worked out of nowhere. The next instance was a mission where you need to clear the Main Street town from certain creatures. When completing this objective, the cutscene occurred that cleared the town of enemies, but it never adjusted the buildings properly and not a single NPC was populated. I had to reload my game, redo this entire mission, and then afterwards, the town populated and NPCs were in the area to advance the story. There was even another instance where I had to face off against a bone troll out in the land, and there was a time limit to defeat him in. It passed that time limit and I failed, but a simple walk-away and walk-back method had the bone troll reappear with the remaining health it was at and completely frozen in place for me to just hack away at and beat, then changing the mission status from failed to success. The last occurrence I’ll mention is a cutscenethat began mid-boss battle. After the scene ended, Cross was completely stuck on an object and couldn’t move at all, forcing me to restart the game and try again. Overall, it’s just extremely buggy with its event triggers.

Visually, Eternal Edge is boasting a style reminiscent of 3D Dot Game Heroes, with pixel-heavy 3D characters utilizing only a few frames of animation each. The land is made entirely of voxels and the smoothed-out environment shows that. Rock formation of the land seems to have a very odd tendency of shifting colors based on how light hits it. One moment it looks like ice, then it looks like straight-up rough terrain, then it looks like water…it just looks very strange. Thankfully, the grass plains and sandy beach areas look a bit more polished. Framerate is also inconsistent. While hovering in the 30fps mark, it tends to drop and stutter often. The only tendency I noticed the framerate the most stable was in the game’s first dungeon area, as well as the 8-bit dungeons. In terms of audio, the music here is good, accompanies the game quite well, and can be catchy.

Ultimately, Eternal Edge is a game that is incredibly ambitious for the small team over at Righteous Weasel Games, and one that has the makings of a great game. However, there’s no denying the game needed several more months of QA and bug testing. Despite all the game’s issues, I still found myself wanting to continue the game, and that’s usually a good indicator to what’s underneath the game’s issues. Should the game get a proper patch that squashes most of the bugs, this would definitely be a title worth recommending to Switch owners. As it stands in its current state however, it’s hard to recommend spending $20 on a very buggy game.

Overall Score: 5.0 out of 10 = Wait for a price drop…

A special thank you to Righteous Weasel Games for providing us a review copy for Eternal Edge! Review based on Switch version.

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