Edge of Space - Preview [Alpha/Beta]

It’s hard to gauge what sort of future ‘craftbox’ games are likely to have in the realm of video games. Minecraft was such a phenomenal success that anything that follows it will likely be judged on how it compares to and measures up to it, both artistically and commercially. While Edge of Space doesn’t seem to be particularly revolutionary, it sticks closely to the formula of its genre and introduces small alterations in the hope of creating a unique identity for itself.

Edge of Space is a open world exploration and crafting game, currently in the alpha stages of production. There are two people currently working on this title and it is trying to get Greenlit on Steam. It is an interesting title in so much that it’s a game that will be dependent upon the community both embracing it and driving its continual development.

Edge of Space plays on the idea of loneliness by placing you ‘on the very cusp of existence’, whatever that means. You are certainly not alone however with plenty of different types of monsters making this quite a hostile and lively environment. Everything has value you are told in perhaps an attempt to address the problems of similar titles in amassing large quantities of ‘junk’. However, there isn't anything really unique in this regard and you'll soon get a sense of déjà vu, as you begin the process of hoarding materials by the bulk.

Crafting weapons is one of the main appeals of this game. The game relies on projectiles and when you have hordes of jumping, ant-sized creatures, then the importance of good gameplay mechanics is essential. Hit detection seems to be a bit iffy with regard to lower tier weapons I was able to craft. Some weapons are intentionally inaccurate to reflect their type, such as shotguns, but I found trying to kill the smaller, faster enemies with different guns, frustrating regardless of what type of gun I used. However, I am not certain as to whether this can be solved by simply making the enemies bigger... or by getting better weapons. The attention to detail is very good with regards to the armour and is reminiscent of popular sci-fi titles like Fallout which is a nice bonus and roots the title in its sci-fi setting.

How to defeat annoying enemies......KA-BOOOM!

The initial difficulty in this game is very high. There are no in game tutorials (so far) and finding out what to do is confusing to say the least. I resorted to a combination of keyboard mashing and consulting the currently sparsely detailed EoS-wiki. After finding I had to make my own equipment rather than attempt to pry open my escape pod and collect the usual beginner friendly booty of video game tradition, I began to set about mining and creating my own set of wares. Again I found issues here again as, like me, the uninitiated will find it difficult to discern various materials required for this task. The key ingredient that was my stumbling block was aluminium. This looks very similar to the rock tile set. It is a rare material and can be found in small patches.

*The latest client patch includes an invaluable tutorial on getting started*

The actual process of mining can be quite finicky at times, though perhaps, like the weapon hit detection, this can be easily smoothed out with a performance patch.

The music of this title is a bit hit and miss. The haunting simple sci-fi themed orchestral score is quite apt for the loneliness of soaring through the upper atmosphere. However the incessant bleeps of the jellies is ludicrous to the point of having to turn the sound off completely. Sound effects of taking damage would also be useful, as there can be some confusion when you suddenly die and are not aware you are under attack, or taking damage.

                                                  Worst time for a jet-pack failure....

Multiplayer seems to be a promising aspect to EoS. I would like to see quests and unique opportunities for this title to differentiate itself from the competition, and perhaps a co-op mode with quests and fun things to do. Designing and trading laser guns of justice would be an excellent path to take if this is fully explored.

As previously mentioned, this is an early game build with regular updates for beta users that address technical and performance issues. Aside from these fixes there needs to be better integrated system and UI for hosting multiplayer and actually loading up a game world; as this can be extremely frustrating and confusing for new users. All this may well be part of the process for such an openly developed game like Edge of Space, but having these early, user-friendly features, such as simply exiting the program rather than Ctrl-Alt-Del will make this early build that little bit more enjoyable.

World load issues can be incredibly frustrating

Edge of Space does not necessarily feel very ‘space-like’. The only connection I found was the rather cool shift in background setting as you fly higher into the atmosphere; but with a limited flight mechanic, exploration into this region was limited; unless I am able to find a schematic that allows me to build an unlimited jetpack and go to into actual space!  The path seems to point downwards through mining and traversing the radiation to progress. Perhaps cool things can be placed in the upper reaches of space, such as abandoned alien stations with goodies and bosses to explore as some kind of meta-end game awaits in the high heavens.

Crafting cool looking items is very rewarding. Perhaps due to the process of tracking down hard to find materials and then getting an awesome new looking piece of armour to wear. I feel however some licence needs to be given to new initiates, such as a lighting source, as finding rare metals is difficult to craft one out of the gate and perhaps a simple gun.

Edge of Space seems to be a project of passion by its creators, HandyMan Studios. They were very prompt in helping issues I had with this title (connecting to multiplayer) and are eager to assist trouble shooting for users of the game and this is reassuring to see. EoS will be an interesting title to keep an eye on. Game updates will dramatically help with the appeal to new users, who hopefully will in turn drive the game onwards with new ideas and content.

Edge of Space is available to try out in its alpha/beta stage for £6.99/$14.99 by visiting here.

A game key was provided by the developer for the purpose of a game preview.

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