Edengate: The Edge of Life


A game that's hard to pigeonhole but easy to complete...


In Edengate: The Edge of Life, you play as Mia Lorenson, who wakes up in a deserted hospital. With no idea why you're there, you set out to explore and find out what happened to her and where everyone's gone. It's a scenario that's been used so many times in movies, TV and games that it feels extremely familiar. Edengate: The Edge of Life is more "interactive experience" or "walking game" than third-person action game, and dwells on Mia's understandable feelings of confusion, loneliness and uncertainty–feelings which are exacerbated by a total lack of other people, the ghostly apparition of a small boy and weird root-like glowing tentacles that block her way..

Most of the game involves walking or slowly jogging around (Mia "runs" like an octogenarian marathon runner), searching for items and objects and interacting with or examining them by pressing or holding  'A' and flipping them around with 'Y'. Mia travels light, and has no inventory so there are no items to to collect and carry, but there are several things you need to examine to progress. Some objects appear to "steam," and if examined, they produce flashes of memory, which slowly fills in the backstory. 

Interactive objects are all clearly marked with a white circle and you're unlikely to get lost as the way forward is nearly always marked with a white triangle–there are exceptions but these usually involve using a code to open a door, squeezing through a narrow gap or lighting up the tentacles.

Some objects invoke Mia's memories.

Visually, Edengate is no more than "ok," with detailed enough scenery but disappointing, typically Unreal Engine-esque clipping here and there. Other than her painfully slow "run" Mia's character model is well animated and her glossy hair is particularly good. The game is mostly dark and dingy with some moody lighting, but this produces a weird shadow effect that makes Mia look like a zombie if you turn the camera to face her.

The weird tentacles that block your way.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I was disappointed with Edengate, it's a lot less interesting than it looked in trailers, and it’s short. There's nothing wrong with a slow-paced mystery game, but it needed more of everything. Edengate's big problem is that combined with its brevity, the total lack of shooting, or combat of any sort, or even the danger of falling from high spots, and puzzles that practically do themselves means there's a lack of action, excitement and challenge. Despite a dark, cloying, atmosphere there's very little tension or threat–if certificated Edengate wouldn't even need to have "Mild Peril" on it. It worries me that more games might be designed to be this tame.

The ghostly little boy that repeatedly appears to Mia.

This final paragraph contains SPOILERS so please skip it if you intend to purchase the game. If I were to describe Edengate: The Edge of Life's story as 'vague' would be hugely complimentary. Mia is/was a virologist who apparently developed a cure for EVERYTHING. I presumed the mysterious little boy would turn out to be her deceased brother or son, no doubt due to the virus that she's worked so hard to eradicate. But at the end of the game we're left without a clue. Edengate will be memorable to me if only for the fact that it used the word 'Catastrophize" in the dialogue, of which there’s a good deal, none of which really explains key events or the outcome of the game. Edengate smacks of the developer running out of time or money, but at the same time shows enough to make me want to see what the developer comes up with next. It definitely carries a message about the dangers of virology but fails to engage the player as much emotionally as it should have–especially given the last few years we've all been through. But here's the thing, Edengate is by HOOK, an indie developer & publisher, it’s game that’s hard to pigeonhole, it may only take you a couple of hours to play through and might not be in the same class as the Plague Tale games, Control, Deliver Us The Moon, Contrast or What Remains of Edith Finch, but it's only £5.89 on the Xbox Store and delivers a relatively easy 1000Gs, so that'll make it popular with a certain “hunter” audience for sure.

Thanks to HOOK and PressEngine for the review code.