Preview: Edge of Space

Edge of Space – What We Think

One of two upcoming sci-fi sandbox games heavily inspired by Terraria (the other being the more exploration-oriented Starbound), Edge of Space aims for depth in every sense of the word, challenging you, as an operative for the Ark Corporation, to completely terraform the alien world of Achoa, descending multiple biomes, constructing bases, pacifying the local wildlife (which, it should be noted, include flying laser-equipped sharks) and rendering them fit for human occupation and exploitation.

Edge of Space, play screen

Edge of Glory

The world of Achoa itself is gorgeous; imagine Wayne Barlow teaming up with Dr. Seuss to design an alien planet, and you get the picture, complete with psychedelic background and otherworldly flora and fauna.

When Edge of Space is at its best, this world is a joy to explore, and a joy to exploit: with a mining and crafting system that should be pretty familiar to Terraria fans, it scratches a similar itch. Sure, you’re using a laser pick instead of a regular one, but the same reward centers light up in your brain when you come across a particularly promising vein of ore deep within a crab-infested tunnel system.

It’s better than candy if you’re of a certain, slightly obsessive type who derives joy from mining tiny squares, and the crafting system, if a bit slow to let you in the good stuff, is fascinatingly complex, incorporating weapons, gear, ammunition and even electrically-powered manufacturing equipment.

Edge of Space, mining in a cavern

Edge of Madness

Unfortunately, the game can be aggravating – some of that is just the nature of a sandbox game; the sheer complexity and possibilities present in Edge of Space are more than enough to put off a casual gamer, not to mention all the grinding for minerals in the early phases of play. And the extreme fragility of your character at the beginning doesn’t so much reward patience as it does punish curiosity (in fairness, Terraria suffered from similar problems).

Others aspects, like the omission of some fairly important crafting elements in the tutorial (like fabricators, which will automatically craft certain necessary ingredients for you, but only if placed a certain way) will likely be resolved before the game’s official launch.

Some seemingly intentional elements, however, add frustration rather than fun. Instead of a minimap, there’s a radar-and-beacon system that requires crafting; it’s a neat idea, but you’d think an interstellar corporation that can outfit a bottom-of-the-corporate-ladder terraforming operative gear capable of building a laser out of dirt and rock could spring for a notepad and some crayons for sketching out mine shafts.

Edge of Space, space station

The game also takes a logically inconsistent approach to gravity: Huge chunks of mud and rock float as if weightless in Achoa’s atmosphere, but fall off one (or forget to turn your jet pack on in time) and you’re dead in no time.

Edge of Brilliance

The game is still in beta, and it gets enough right that it should be amazing once Handyman Studios irons out the rest of the bugs (not counting the space fireflies and caterpillars, which are supposed to be there). Even the developers of Terraria think so; there are already numerous official crossovers, like the transformation of Skeletron into the Edge of Space boss Omegatron, and more are planned. In its current state, though, it’s by turns addictive and aggravating.

Diehard sandbox game obsessives will find plenty worth their while here, but the steep difficulty curve, slow pace and unforgiving controls make for an unrewarding experience for players unfamiliar with the genre’s foibles.

Edge of Space is currently in Beta but can be purchased and played via Steam Early Access or Desura.

Edge of Space – Official Site

Get Edge of Space on Steam

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

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