Edge of Space Early Access Review
Please remember that Edge of Space is not completed, and more features will be added as the game develops. As such, in the future this article may not be a fair representation of the game.
Edge of Space, developed by Handyman Studios and published by Reverb Publishing, is a 2D dynamically generated space adventure. Much to the likes of ever popular Terraria and recent debut of Starbound, Edge of Space allows you go venture through alien planets, build a home base, fend off the local wildlife, and most importantly, survive. It may seem like these survival games are a dime-a-dozen, but the fine folks at Handyman Studios have put their own spin on the whole “survivalcraft” genre.
I am going to preface this by saying that Edge of Space is in a very early stage of development. It was recently updated and gained some traction through Steam’s Early Access, but the fact of the matter Edge of Space is a bit rough around the edges as of right now. It can be quite a turn off to play a game so early in development, especially if it gives you the wrong impressions due to bugs and other strange anomalies. I will say, though, that in the two weeks that I’ve been playing the game, there has been a staggering amount of bug fixes and patches that have really improved the experience. I wholeheartedly believe that Edge of Space will improve in this respect as the developers iron out bugs, UI issues, and add in more content.
In Edge of Space, you play as a lonely operative representing the Ark Corporation. After catching some beauty sleep in a cryo-chamber, you wake up and realize that you’re basically lost. Your only chance of survival is to depend on the amazing technologies that brought you to the, ahem, edge of space. The only problem here is that you’ll have to find the materials you will need to survive amidst a hostile and dangerous planet. Actually, planet right not even be the right word for Edge of Space. It’s more like an asteroid field where you bounce to and from different small land masses.
One facet of Edge of Space that’s particularly interesting is how the environment is constantly working to kill you. Make no doubt about it, you’ve arrived in a hell-hole that is out for your blood. There are plenty of enemies wandering around trying to eat you, but more than that, the entire gameworld wants your flesh. As you descend lower and lower in space, you’ll take exposure damage if you’re not fully equipped. This can really be a range of things, including radiation or lack of oxygen. In order to prevent this, you’ll want to fully make sure you’ll have the supplies on you to oxygenate the area, or get rid of the radiation. As an ArkCo Operative, you can also defend your new territory with a series of droids or turrets.
As of March 2014, combat in Edge of Space is completely centered around guns. There aren’t any melee weapons as of now. However, there are some interesting ideas with the guns. My favorite example is the Arklight, a gun that shoots out a sticky, glowing canister. This is extremely useful when spelunking through the various caverns you’ll find scattered throughout space, and it sure beats placing a torch down every 10 feet. In fact, torches have such a low-light radius that I tended to stick with the narrow glow of my laser pick and the Arklight.
As someone who has never played Edge of Space before, first impressions can kill the experience. I’m not going to lie, Edge of Space is pretty rough around the edges, especially in the first hour or so. Although it has improved dramatically since I’ve recieved the game, the biggest problem is still the UI. There are some peculiarities that really need adjusting to, especially if you compare them to the flexibility of similar games. One such example would be the hotbar, which is a bit complicated because it can take multiple clicks to slot in different items. The crafting menu is categorized into different sections, but you’ll have to individually click each item you want to use in a recipe. I see what it’s trying to do, and I really like the fact that in some recipes you can substitute many different items, but it’s clunky.There are other little things like this that really drag down the experience despite the survival aspects of the game working as intended.
Edge of Space has a nonlinear sense of progression, but sometimes it is more complicated than it’s own good. There are plenty of machines that you can use to craft items, but when it comes to weapons and armor, you’ll have to go to an armory. This is really more tedious than it needs to be because you’ll have to drop down various unmarked chutes, and you’ll be given whatever weapon lies at the bottom as well as the recipe for said weapon. The first time I went into the armory, I fell down the chute and got a shotgun. Don’t get me wrong, shotguns are awesome, but I didn’t get to look at the other weapons I could have made.
In one of the recent patches, one of the developers of Terraria actually added a few things into Edge of Space. It’s great to see that Edge of Space has the support of a well-known and beloved developer, and it’s even better to see Skeletron inside of Edge of Space. Omegatron, as it’s called in-game, adds some much needed flavor to the typical crabs and floating snails you’ll find outside your base, not to mention he’s very difficult.
In the end, Edge of Space is still very much a work in progress. If you go in expecting a full-fledged game with lots of content and polish, you’ll be sorely disappointed. What Edge of Space excels at is creating a unique environment with interesting gunplay and addictive gameplay. It’s tough to quit playing when you’re in the middle of setting up a fortress, or going on an expedition to dangerous zones. Given a few extra months in the oven and I have no doubt that Edge of Space will easily turn into something that will be worth your money.
If you’d like to give Edge of Space a try or support Handyman Studios, please head on over to Edge of Space’s page on Steam!