Review: EDGE

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In the past, wrestling games have mainly been clunky, slow and methodical games with awkward grapple mechanics. The game EDGE seeks to change this. From amateur wrestler to seven time World Heavyweight Champion, this new game available on Steam and mobile platforms chronicles the career of Adam Joseph Copeland. Our protagonist, better known to the world as “Edge”, has optioned the rights to his inspirational life story. Fans of the sports entertainment genre and good games will want to check this game out.

To truly reinvigorate wrestling games, the developers of EDGE have stripped out all of the people, larger than life personas, finishing moves, soap opera story lines, and gone so far as to make it seem as though the game has absolutely nothing at all to do with wrestling. Some players may even believe that the title of the game is a total coincidence, and that it is a sign of a serious mental disorder to perceive it as having anything to do with old wrestlers. But those who get deep into the game, really soak in the design, will know better. EDGE is a game about getting a cube to the finish line as quickly as possible; the parallels between indie puzzle platforming and the all time king of the ring are obvious.

Players will play the game by navigating a cube through an obstacle course. The cube has no apparent means of locomotion and can only flop over on its side. This is not a game of jumping boxes. The only input is what direction the cube travels. The sole exception is that when the cube hits a wall or block, it can “climb” up onto the top or the edge if the wall is no higher than the cube. Luckily, everything in the levels is in some factor of the cube’s length, so it is always very easy to tell whether the cube will be able to make it over the lip.

There is no way for you to fail EDGE, just like there is no way for Edge to fail you. If the cube falls off a level, everything is reset to a checkpoint. The amount of falls or deaths is tallied at the end of every level, but it does not appear to be possible to fail no matter how many times the cube is sent to geometry heaven. The game grades a run of a level largely based upon how fast it is completed. So while dying a lot will decrease your score, if you just ignore that part of the game you can still enjoy the levels and the 8-bit inspired soundtrack.

The levels themselves start out fairly straightforward: flip over these couple of cubes to get to the end; flip onto this moving platform to cross a pit; hit that switch to move these platforms so that you can move on. The only real hindrance being whether you can time the flip properly to get the cube onto the moving platform and making sure there is enough clearance to be able to flip the box. Like three blocks were placed next to each other, the middle block cannot move on top of the other two unless they move or it goes around. If that block were the white cube in this game, and those blocks were fixed level geometry, then the cube would need to find another path to get on top.

Eventually the levels require that the cube hang part way through the flip and balance on the top rope, before finally flipping. This is done by only tapping the direction of the flip a little bit as it goes up and down. A use of this maneuver, known as “edging,” could be that there are two big platforms across a gap and a wall that is two cubes high on one full side of the gap. As that is too high to climb, another means of crossing is needed. If the gap was three lengths long and had two moving platforms one length long, set one length apart and going forward and back two spaces, then the cube could not cross, because blocks can’t jump. However, if it were to flip onto one, get carried to the middle space, then almost try to flip onto the wall, but not quite, and hang up until the other moving platform was beneath the cubonist, then the cube could go across. Math in motion. Video describes this process much clearer than words, and in tricky spots there are question mark blocks that can be flipped onto to show the sequence of flips and edge hangs needed to proceed. Sadly, the time it takes to watch this phantom cube is not subtracted from the overall level time.

The levels have decent replay value, as it is always possible to get a faster time and there are Steam achievements for doing well. Scattered throughout each level are several prism cubes that will turn the boring default cube into a Technicolor dreambox and cause it to flip faster. It can be tricky to move the cube no matter if it’s controlled with the keyboard or a gamepad. As the camera is in an isometric perspective, anyone that forgets which way the cube will flip when a given direction is pressed will fall to their previous checkpoint, ruining any chance at a great time. As every prism has to be collected to get the best S rank, and the prisms are deliberately out of the way, this can get frustrating.

There are not a ton of mix ups to the core flipping gameplay. At certain points, in some levels, the cube can flip onto a pulsating section of the world that will shrink it down to a cube that I will say is 1/27th the size of the regular cube. This allows the cube to navigate small passages that it otherwise could not flip in as well as to climb walls that are more than one cube length high. The chibi-cube has an appropriately smaller sounding flipping noise, but since this shrinking is usually only featured in a limited number of areas, it does not really change the game too much.

It is difficult to say how the developers made a game about a white box appealing, but they have done so. I credit this feat to the attachment of a living legend’s name and story, but others might say that it is a result of catchy tunes and a decent amount of clever levels to tackle. Other than an occasional struggle with the sensitive controls, the only knock against the game is that it does not seem to be finished. As of this review, or at least as of the night before I wrote the review, there were several features that are not in the game. According to the developer, there will be a free update in the nearish future that will add over 40 additional levels, new achievements, an extended soundtrack and what sounds like a mode that will allow you to race against someone else’s best run. Half full, free DLC is forthcoming; half empty, this stuff should have been in the game when it was released.

But, assuming for the sake of argument that the developer and publisher fall off the Earth such that no one can ever complete the promise of future content, this is a fun retro styled game that takes two basic ideas (cubes can hang on edges, little cubes can climb) and runs with it. While not immediately on point, the game is reminiscent of classic Marble Madness and the Mercury games on the PSP. Not exactly the same, but if the review and media of gameplay cannot help you decide whether or not you will like this game, those can be your own personal bellwether. If you’re still not helped, just know that this is a good buy, even if you don’t appreciate it on all its levels of meaning.

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Pros:
+ Simple and clean look
+ Catchy chip tunes
+ Good amount of levels

Cons:
– Gameplay is the same throughout
– Perspective can make it difficult to navigate
– Game feels unfinished

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PC; previously released on iPhone
Publisher: Two Tribes
Developer: Two Tribes / Mobigame
Release Date: 8/11/2011
Genre: Platform / Puzzle
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

Steve has been playing video games since the start of the 1980s. While the first video game system he played was his father's, an Atari 2600, he soon began saving allowances and working for extra money every summer to afford the latest in interactive entertainment. He is keenly aware of how much it stinks to spend good money on a bad game. It does things to a man. It makes stink way too much time into games like Karnov to justify the purchase.