When we previously stepped into the world of Edge of Space, the game was playable, but in a definite early state. We loved what we saw at PAX East this year enough to name the game Best Indie RPG. Fast forward to this year’s PAX Prime, and the large improvement in graphics was the first sign that things in the game have come a long way since those early builds. Still in Early Access, the team at Handyman Studios has been updating and adding to the game at a consistent clip. At PAX, all the focus was on the dungeons, where they were running a challenge all weekend. The dungeon demo was indeed a challenge, and that is the focus of this, our latest preview of the game.
Edge of Space, Terraria, and Starbound are often compared. Edge of Space might be the latest entry in the field of sci-fi exploration RPG genre blenders, but it’s certain that the game is drawing its lines and letting players know that it is its own game.
Terraria exists mainly on a randomly generated planet, with players terraforming, utilizing, and making that space over. Starbound has lots of instances, you jump from planet to planet, and play through story and encounter lots of phases there. Handyman considers Edge of Space to be a middle ground, with its core overworld that you terraform and build upon to make it your very own, but also a series of instances to discover and tackle. These randomized dungeons to discover are similar to Starbound’s series of instances, but you, as an ArkCo representative on this planet, are not zipping from place to place.
The team considers its game to be more action-combat oriented than the games most often compared to EoS. Sharks with laser beams, raptor mounts, and even wild creatures that are motion captured and then rendered for more realistic designs.
The team was showing off a customized dungeon that it made (the abovementioned challenge), with the horde-like wraith mode, trap dodging, and then a boss fight.
The first section, however, was all about the firepower.
After leaving the ship and jumping down to a special lever, which of course, I interacted with, dropping down a large mech to jump into. You definitely want to get into your infinite ammo mech, because it offers both protection and a ton of firepower. The dungeon then tossed several waves at me, including bears, bugs, and raptors in succession. Movement can be a little sticky and takes some getting used to, with the mouse determining which direction your guns face. It took a moment to adjust, and I found myself shooting the wrong way once in a while. I got overwhelmed the first time and eventually fell to a pack of bears. Next time I had better fortune, lasting through waves of enemies, having adjusted to the controls better. You can jump on the enemies to cause more damage, and you’ll have to utilize combinations of techniques in order to succeed mostly intact.
One thing that looks really cool and adds to the throwback feel is the background while you’re blasting at the initial waves. You’re on a platform that is heading slowly down, and that motion helped keep things from feeling too static. As I mentioned, Edge of Space has gotten a strong visual overhaul. The game looks much crisper than before, even when zoomed in. Once you mow through the waves and reach the bottom, you’ll change over to another old school influenced segment, a trap dodging scenario. This was designed to feel more like a Metroid-esque setting, with a level that required us to drop down bit by bit onto a series of platforms, avoiding deathtraps and creatures along the way. Once down, it’s time to go off to meet the boss, which turned out to look like some form of alien blob shooting its young at you. Everything from the graphics in this dungeon to the dialogue and music felt appropriate to the dungeon and continued the old school feel.
The difficulty was definitely there. I fell a few times in battle, watching my mech break around me, and left to fend off remaining waves in just my standard gear and shields. But while the PAX demo was purely single player, you can definitely tackle these dungeons with some buddies. Cover each other’s backs and take on everything a dungeon has to offer together. Since this demo dungeon was created for the show and was also part of a challenge at the booth, things were definitely meant to give you a test.
After dodging traps and safely jumping down to the last part of the dungeon, the boss fight was also very challenging. Bosses in Edge of Space aren’t going to be pushovers, though once again, coming in with friends to pool resources in the game as a whole as well as take on instanced content together will leave you on top more often.
Edge of Space wants you to play with others. Get together and build multi-person vehicles and then utilize them for transporting your buddies. Tackle dungeons together. Transform your core planet more effectively and faster together. And the matter of community is an important one as well.
While the game is still in Early Access, things have definitely come a long way. Handyman recognizes that earning trust as a game still very much in development but simultaneously available for sale and instant play is important. So the team remains in touch with the community, iterating often, and getting feedback. This way the game feels like it is a purchase of value and an investment into a real, live game. Right now, Edge of Space feels much more feature complete than before, and if you’re looking for a mix of the similar games in the genre out there, Edge of Space might have what you’re looking for.