The gaming world’s been through a lot in the past decade. Two console generations and numerous genre trends, not to mention a rapid move to the forefront of mainstream entertainment. In the last ten years, we’ve gone through motion control crazes and plastic peripheral parties, and Call of Duty’s essentially turned into Halo minus the aliens. Point being, the industry’s changed a lot in ten years. During that time, steadily getting made, cancelled, un-cancelled, crowdfunded, then eventually dumped onto Steam at a budget price, was Edge of Twilight: Return to Glory, an ambitious steampunk yarn that’s been all but forgotten by the mainstream.
Which is sad, because there’s a lot here to love. For starters, the narrative is wonky and weird in an endearing sort of way. Players take the role of Lex, a surly bounty hunter armed with a sword that’s also a steam-powered gun. During the course of this episode, he’s tasked with turning on a bunch of generators and killing some eldritch horrors along the way. The basic premise is that the balance of night and day has somehow become upset, and from what I could gather, exist as sort-of parallel dimensions from each other. There’s political intrigue, weird body horror, a masked bunny-woman, awkward comedy, and copious amounts of silly gore. Oh, did I mention the protagonist turns into a demonic entity with white dreadlocks at night? Because he does, and it’s about as silly as it sounds.
As you can probably gather, Edge of Twilight is a game fits snugly between Deadly Premonition and Drakkengard 3 in terms of tone. That is to say, it’s all over the place in a way that ultimately charms. Stupid one-liners stand side-by-side with watching a man die, beseeching you to not tell his wife how he died. Zombies with swords pop out of magical portals in an industrial, steampunk world. Dense, elaborate lore is punctuated by hammy, absurd dialogue. It’s a weird mixture of dumb camp and legitimately interesting world-building, with the occasional “what is even happening” thrown in for good measure. All of this tied together by a corny, macho protagonist that I couldn’t help but to love by the end of the game.
It doesn’t hurt that Edge of Twilight is more or less solid to play, in spite of some warts. Everything works how I would imagine it was intended, with combat being a sloppier riff on something like God of War, complete with the buckets of blood. It doesn’t feel amazing with a keyboard and mouse, but I couldn’t get my gamepad to work with it for whatever reason. Combat’s also spiced up with a steam-powered shotgun, which can either be charged through its own button or building up steam through combos. When playing in your weird demonic form, the game’s more of a platformer, with the player able to scale walls and make giant leaps. There’s combat in this form too, with Lex using magic to freeze enemies, then explode them into bloody mush. It’s simple but satisfying, which could sum up the whole experience.
Unfortunately, fun as it is, there’s some work that needs to be done. Directions in Edge of Twilight are pretty unclear, and players can go places they’re very clearly not intended to. Menus are in jarring low-resolution, as are the cutscenes, which doesn’t help the already visually-middling game. The platforming controls have led to some awkward and frustrating deaths, and using Lex’s shotgun can be unwieldy. Some areas are oddly quiet, and some even have unfinished textures. Most egregiously, I’ve loaded the game and ended up playing with windows of debug code running on my screen. It’s a pretty big laundry list, making it fair to say that this is very clearly not a finished nor polished title. All of that being said, however, I didn’t run into anything game-breaking or progress-halting.
Edge of Twilight’s issues might doom lesser games, but in spite of them, I found myself enjoying my time with the quirky title and wanting more. That’s because the sense of scale, the whimsical world, and the oddball tone of the whole affair isn’t like anything else I’ve played this year. I was genuinely engrossed by this game in ways that not many bigger games with higher budgets have accomplished recently. Unfortunately, Return to Glory is only the first of several episodes, meaning that you’re not actually getting the finished game when you buy it. That said, you get a decent chunk of playtime for fifteen bucks, and access to the other chapters will only run you around thirty bucks.
For that price, I would cautiously recommend Edge of Twilight based on this first episode. Anyone who simply can’t accept some jank, or demands everything they play be a totally polished experience should stay away. I can understand and respect that decision entirely. However, as someone who plays a lot of games for a living, I’m always on the lookout for something that has personality. That’s something that this game has in spades, and it has enough of it for me to see it through to its end.