I was surprised by Along the Edge. I was made aware of the game by writer Geoffroy Vincens, who contacted me after seeing our coverage of Lucy Blundell’s One Night Stand and thinking the game might grab our interest. While I was initially a little skeptical about an “Adult Interactive Visual Novel with Occult Elements”, I am pleased to say my judging of this book by it’s cover was misplaced.
Along the Edge is certainly a mature story, dealing with adult themes, but it’s not over sexualized, or trying harder than it needs to to be taken seriously. Likewise, the occult elements of the story are not misplaced and don’t feel slapped on for ‘spice’. They are an integral and well constructed part of the plot.
More than anything, Along the Edge is a story about a woman, Daphne, dealing with past trauma and turning over a new leaf. This is not a story to put yourself into; it is Daphne’s story, and Along the Edge‘s dedication to this fact helps make it an engaging and thought provoking story where the choices you make really do matter, and have the potential to create entirely different narratives.
Title: Along the Edge
Platform: PC, Mac & Linux — in English & in French
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by Developer
Interface: Keyboard and Mouse
Available on Steam, itch.io, Humble Store, Mac App Store and iPad.
Along the Edge casts you as Daphne, a young woman who is in a pretty serious rut, unsatisfied with both her personal and professional life and having recently gone through a number of life changing traumas. One day, you find out your grandmother has made you the beneficiary of her estate, a large castle-esq villa in a french country village. You take this as a chance to get away from the negativity in your life and turn over a new leaf, taking a substitute teaching job in the villages school.
Suffice to say, there’s more going on than is let on at first glance. We won’t spoil anything, but by the end of things there are romantic relationships in play, generations old family feuds, ancient magic and prophetic dreams. All of this hinges on the choices you make as Daphne.
Note, I didn’t say ” The choices you make”. I said “the choices you make as Daphne”. Along the Edge is very much a story about a character who is already established, already has a history and motivations all her own. She is not a character you can easily mold to be your vision of yourself in this situations, and that isn’t the goal of the choices you make in Along the Edge. You’re guiding a character in one of a number of different ways, but these choices are firmly planted in the context of the world.
To me, this gave the story of Along the Edge, and the choices being made, a surprising weight. By restricting the reactions, choices, and ways things could play out based on the mindset and personality of an already established main character, the developers created and incredible sense of validity. True, there was less of a sense of self-reflection in this character, and you feel more like an outsider watching a story unfold as opposed to some other visual novels and narrative games that emphasis putting you into the shoes of their protagonist, but the choice is incredibly successful in engaging the player and getting them involved in the story.
Mechanically, the choices you make in Along the Edge are selected from the screen, and then the impact of those choices are relayed back to you in the form of a four-pointed compass at the top of the screen. Your choices each impact one of the four points of this compass: The Star, The Globe, The Sun or The Moon. Some choices will stagger between two of these symbols, but ultimately the choices you make will fall somewhere on this compass much like a four pointed alignment chart. Additionally, after particularly momentous decisions in the game, there will be very obvious visual changes to Daphne as she grows and learns about this world, and about herself.
By making these choices, character will change the way they react to you, enter or leave your life, or reveal new opportunities. One of the major axis that revolve around this compass is your acceptance or rejection of the magic imbued into this new environment. It’s clear there is something of a supernatural nature going on in your grandmother’s castle, and in the town, but you can steer Daphne towards either welcoming this magic with open arms, or pragmatically shutting the door in it’s face. This particular aspect of the game’s narrative over joyed me, as typically the acceptance of magic in stories involving it is a given fact. It was a wonderful change of pace to instead give the player a chance to accept or deny this fact, and see how this affected the characters in the story.
As noted above, this is spoiler free review, so we won’t reveal the major twists of the story, however you can rest assured that the choices made in Along the Edge are not only cosmetic. They have a real impact of the way this story unfolds, and the way Daphne fulfills her role in it. This fact alone gives Along the Edge an incredible amount of replayability, as there are numerous narratives to uncover and explore.
The art of Along the Edge is beautiful. The painterly scenes of castles and sleepy town shift between season and realities. The town is charming and beautiful, and Daphne’s grandmother’s castle oozes with mystery and history. However, the art chops of Along the edge really get to show their stuff in the dream sequences, which are trippy, fantastical and full of symbolism.
The music is just as fantastic, full of haunting piano melodies that are all at once haunting, morose and calming. The Art and music of Along the Edge combine beautifully and do a superb job of getting you in the exact brain space for this kind of slower paced narrative experience.
Along the Edge is a fantastic narrative experience that drops you into the life of a character in conflict. In conflict with herself, her environment, and even her reality. By guiding this character and making meaningful choices for her, you are made part of a story where those choices has demonstrable effects on the narrative and its conclusion. It’s a rewarding journey alongside a slice out of this character’s life, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Stay tuned for our interview with Along the Edge’s writer Geoffroy Vincens, which will premiere tomorrow!