Review: Along the Edge
‘Along the Edge’ is a visual novel set in the European countryside, where your choices impact the main character’s personality and appearance. The game begins with our protagonist, Daphné Delatour, inheriting a huge manor house out in the countryside from her grandmother that she never met. It is from here that players can chose our protagonists path.
In ‘Along the Edge,’ your decisions are neither “good” nor “bad.” However, the sum of your choices always leads to different scenarios: it’s impossible to “lose” in ‘Along the Edge.’ The branching of the story opens different narrative hypotheses, shaping your adventure according to your choice. It is important to note that ‘Along the Edge’ has SIXTY different endings, and I only played once, therefore achieving one ending, so I will be reviewing my particular story path, and some of the points I make might be different for different paths.
When playing the game and making your decisions, there is a wheel at the top centre of the screen with four symbols: The Sun, The Moon, The Globe and The Star. With every decision you make, one or two of these symbols will glow and they each represent a different thing. For example, when The Sun lights up it means you’ve made the choice a good person would make, whereas The Moon represents more questionable decisions. Remember though, these decisions don’t lead to a “bad” or “good” ending, but they do effect Daphné’s personality and her final appearance. This particular aspect in the game reminded me of the feather system in ‘Until Dawn’ where each decision made corresponded with a different colour feather, which ultimately effected the ending of the game.
The first thing that really stood out to me when I started playing was the beautiful art style, particularly for the cut scenes. It’s simultaneously extremely detailed but also sketch-like in a water colour style. The colours are dark with heavy shadows and bright colours are used for specific things for particular scenes, so they stand out more to help with the atmosphere of the scene. I have never played a visual novel with such a beautiful art style, so I would recommend playing it just for the art style alone.
Another aspect I really liked about the game was Daphné’s changing appearance to match her personality. Every now and again in the game during a dream sequence, Daphné will look at her reflection in a pond and see her appearance change. It flicks through all of the choices and finally stops on the appearance that matches up with your choices so far. I had two total dream sequences/appearance changes before my appearance was finalised. Perhaps the more erratic your choices are, the longer it takes the game to finalise this.
Since this was a first play through, for choices that seemed like they would impact the story in a large way, I took my time before deciding on them. For example, right at the beginning of the game you have the choice between two love interests; Frank, your ex-fiancé whom you were with for ten years, or Stanislas, son of the influential Malterres that your family have feuded with for generations. I waited until the last possible moment to make my decision, which was Frank, (though you can choose to stay single.) However, although I did choose a love interest, I feel the relationship wasn’t fleshed out enough. Especially since Daphné and Frank were together for ten years prior, they don’t seem to have a close relationship, it’s not fleshed out enough, and I don’t genuinely believe they love each other, let alone just want to be friends. They seem more like acquaintances. Even when the game was trying to “convince” me to choose Stan, again, the relationship between the two wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to want to make that decision, and I don’t think it ever would be. So, the overall main critique is, the game needs to flesh out Daphné’s relationships, to make them more convincing.
Speaking of storylines needing to be fleshed out, the particular path I played was a little lacklustre. Considering this is a visual novel, I expected the storyline to be exquisite, however I had my problems with it. The writing at the beginning of the game was very strong, it created enough intrigue for me to want to continue playing, and left me with questions I wanted answering, but as the game progressed the writing weakened, some parts became predictable and other parts were just not enjoyable due to forcing a narrative that was working. Daphné’s relationship with all of the characters didn’t seem genuine. It didn’t seem like she had a relationship with any of them, even when you were presented choices to “get to know this person better” it just didn’t seem authentic. The plot itself, for my particular route, was a little disappointing. Considering that a huge central focus around the Delatour family is the supernatural, I feel like that it wasn’t fleshed out enough, none of the questions I had about it were explained. However, this could’ve just been due to the fact that it gets explained in more detail on a different storyline. Also, considering Daphné was estranged from her mother, the fact that Sophie Delatour just shows up at the manor and the two suddenly get along perfectly from the moment she arrives bothered me. I would’ve liked to have seen more tension, given options whether to push Sophie out of our life completely or let her back in. I also feel Sophie as a character wasn’t needed. She showed up just to explain the mystery of the elusive tower, and after that… nothing. I feel like it would’ve been more exciting to discover the mystery of the tower on my own, finding out clues and piecing it all together. A lot of the important plot points were revealed this way, just a random character dumping a huge pile of plot onto us and that was that. It left me a little disappointed.
Again, I only played one storyline, perhaps I wouldn’t have all of these issues if I played a few more of the different paths (which I intend to do.) But, that being said, I still don’t think it excuses the fact that an individual storyline was a little lacklustre. A visual novel should have each path super fleshed out and intriguing so that the player is satisfied with just one play through. I was not, as you can probably tell.
Perhaps I will write an updated review once I have played all sixty endings and achieved all twenty-eight achievements, maybe my opinion will have changed.
However, for now my final rating is: 3 out of 5 stars.
Review by Megan.