Edge of Eternity is inspired by some of the greats. The likes of Final Fantasy, Lost Odyssey, Xenogears, and Shadow Hearts are among the classic JRPGs that French developer Midgar Studio is channeling into its own indie RPG for Xbox Series X. At first glance, you can see this reflected in the turn-based ATB combat system and fantastical setting – Edge of Eternity looks set to be a true love letter to the genre. As producer and narrative designer Guillaume Veer explains, the team is trying to take what makes classic JRPGs great and put their own modern spin on it: "Imagine a JRPG that abides to its classic formula from the 90s, but with all the twists and improvements that you could expect from a modern game", Veer says, before later adding, "Edge of Eternity is the strict application of what makes the classical JRPGs great, and yet every one of their tropes is somehow turned on its head and included into the game with either a twist or an improvement."
With a blend of fantasy and sci-fi, the adventure takes place in the world of Heryon. For the past 15 years, the planet has been at war against a mysterious invader known as the Archelites. Coming from the depths of space, the Archelites unleash a biological weapon known as the Corrosion, a fatal disease that ravages the land. Playing as siblings Daryon and Selene, you set out to find a cure for the Corrosion in a bid to save your mother. Midgar Studio promises that the story will explore some darker themes, as well as feature plenty of humor and heartwarming moments. Veer explains that while the team tried to emulate the storylines of classic JRPGs, he adds that the team has its own "sensitivity and sensibility that will be reflected in the game."
Tactical combat and the Nekaroo
The combat system in Edge of Eternity is the first feature that caught my attention, conjuring the classic feel of an old-school JRPG. Turn-based in style with an active time battle (ATB) gauge system, it is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy, but the battles play out on a hexagonal grid that allows you to move your party members tactically throughout each fight. You can have up to six characters join your team, and each will have their own skill sets and weakness, with a variety of different spells and weapons in play.
Where you place each party member in relation to the enemy can give you an advantage, and there are also opportunities to make use of your surroundings to get the upper hand. In the battle I see play out, one character moves to a ballista on the grid and is able to use it to deliver a powerful blow in their next turn. There's also a progression system, with crystals that can be used to improve the stats of your characters, unlock spells, and enhance weapons. I can already see the appeal in the tactical aspects of the battle system, and if you're well-acquainted with JRPGs it will feel familiar to you.
Combat, along with a host of other features, has been updated and improved throughout the game's early access period over the last two years. Having been in development since 2016 with a team of just four, Midgar Studio is now made up of 15 developers who have been making changes to the game based on player feedback. From combat and crafting systems to loot, camera mechanics, and gameplay, Veer explains just about everything has been tweaked and improved. "During the two years of early access, we've been able to change several things in the game based on the feedback we've received from the players," he says, adding, "basically, we have built the game with them [the players]."
The sense of scale in this indie RPG is impressive, with a big open-world setting made up of a variety of biomes you can freely explore. Happily, you'll be able to traverse these lands on the back of your trusty Nekaroo, an adorable, giant, cat-like creature with fluffy ears and a big bushy tail. As well as serving as a mount, the Nekaroo can help you by using its keen sense of smell to find buried treasure and track down people or objects in various side quests. During the event, Veer answers the one question that was no doubt on everyone's mind: Can you pet the Nekaroo? "You can pet the Nekaroo, of course," Veer confirms. "It's the most important feature of the game and we must say it."
Edge of Eternity is coming to PC on June 8, 2021, and is set to launch on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox Game Pass Q4, 2021.