Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's Like Doing Pull-Ups With a Box

On a whim, I went ahead and bought myself Edge today, as they've released some extra levels and gone on sale and whatnot. It'll be really hard for me to review this game, since I've had such a long history with this game, going back years before it became available on a platform I owned. See, way back in the days of iTunes being "popular" and "non-irritating", Mobigame released a game app called Edge where you control a cube moving around a three-dimensional playing field like an obese Q*bert who gets himself wedged in between things too often. Then, the app disappeared, due to legal conflicts with one Tim Langdall, on the grounds that the game clearly mimicked one of his own (eh, sorta, but not significantly enough) and the fact that he trademarked the word "Edge" (wait, what?). I can't remember the rest of this story, but three things have definitely happened since then:
  1. Edge shaving cream is still available in grocery stores,
  2. Mirror's Edge was still allowed to be made into one of the first games I ever outright panned on this blog, and
  3. The aforementioned Edge game is now on Steam.
So I guess the lawsuits didn't work out for Langdall. And for the longest time, that was my only connection to Edge, and I had mostly forgotten about it, aside from the fact that the hoopla surrounding it was probably one of the first things that got me interested in copyright law.

EdgeEdge is a three-dimensional platformer where you move a cube through a series of obstacles, picking up smaller cubes along the way, and trying not to fall in a myriad of ways. (Well, walking off the edge of the platform, getting pushed off, staying on one of the disappearing blocks too long... A myriad is pretty much three, apparently. It just feels like more because it happens a lot.) Get to the exit, and you get an arbitrary rating based on how many things you picked up and how quickly you did it. That's the game, really.

I guess the main selling point to this game, aside from the rebel-against-the-tyrant background it boasts, is that there's more to it than just walking around and picking daisies. Since you're a cube, you move like a cube (rolling from one face to another), but you're also somehow a cube with sticky edges, meaning you can stick to moving objects by hoisting yourself on one edge and holding that position for as long as necessary. It's known as "Edge Time", and any Edge Time you accumulate is subtracted from your time at the end of the level. Shame it doesn't really make that much of a dent when you're sucking one second off of a 90-second level.

I don't know which angle to tackle this game from first, so let me start by saying that the level design in Edge is quite good, but it doesn't make up for the game itself. There's no shortage of interesting puzzles that can be made from what few mechanics are introduced in the game, but there's really a limit to how much you can play before you start to get bored. I could easily see myself playing through all the levels, but I don't think I'd want to go back and 100% everything right away. I already know it takes some fierce tedium to go back and conquer the highest ranking for each level, so I'll gladly settle for second-best. Or lowest. Frankly, that doesn't much matter to me. I guess what I'm saying is that it feels like there's not enough of a reward for doing well in a level. Top marks or last place, you still unlock the next level, and that's it.

Mind you, there are plenty of levels to go through, between the 40-or-so in the main game, the 40-or-so in the first DLC pack, plus more in the bonus levels obtained by becoming a member of the Edge Steam Group. This is a Two Tribes thing (the company who ported the game to Steam). Between Toki Tori, Rush, and now Edge, they seem to enjoy making you join their group before they give you toys to play with. On the upside, they don't spam you once you're in, but I hope they realize that people don't really want to follow their exploits on Steam, they just want more content for free.

The chiptune music and fairly basic graphics go well with this game, and really help set the mood for a good time. The controls, on the other hand, do not. I understand that the game was originally designed for a touch-screen device, where you play by swiping the cube in one direction or another, and that's fine, but I don't think it really translated well to my keyboard. There are times when I have too much momentum and seem to go right off the edge of a cliff even after I've taken my finger off the key, or that the cube wants to balance on its edge way longer than I would have intended, which is especially annoying when trying to move through a section quickly. The controls aren't a definite turn-off, but they don't help much.

Ultimately, I would recommend buying Edge if it's on sale, and if you can swing it, a better sale than the 20%-off deal going on right now. It's definitely a game that's worth tackling at least once, but I can't see there being much replay value to it. Alternatively, you can be gung-ho about supporting a game that "fought the man" and got away with it, but that battle is long over and shouldn't be relevant when judging this game.