Edge

More iOS gaming on the bus today while I contemplate what, if anything, to do about my repeated inability to run PC games without crashing. Today, I try out Edge, a game that I probably wouldn’t have heard of without Tim Langdell‘s attempt to suppress it. Langdell is so loathed in the games industry that I’d like to say that I relished giving money to his competitors, but as Mobigame (the makers of Edge) is an actual game company, they can’t really be said to be in competition with Edge Games, just as First National Bank wasn’t a competitor of John Dillinger.

But about the game! Edge is essentially a simple isometric platformer in a retroesque style: it’s all monochrome cubes, except for the player avatar and the crumbs you’re supposed to eat along the way, both of which are cubes that cycle through pastel hues in a pulsing, Atari 2600 way. Challenge is created mainly by moving elements, either cycling or triggered: cubes that threaten to knock you off platforms, cubes that you have to ride on top of, and, trickiest of all, cubes that you have to cling to by an edge in a diagonal posture without letting your angle decay or resisting the decay too hard and pivoting to the top and slamming into a wall and falling down. The last is something I still find very difficult, regardless of what control scheme I use.

Now, about those control schemes. There are three, and they’re all awkward, but they’re awkward in different ways. By default, you have a touch-and-drag interface where the relative movement of your finger is turned into a directional force. This is awkward mainly because of the mismatch between analog, any-direction finger movements and four-direction, discrete-steps cube-rolling, but also partly due to the limited space available to drag your finger around. Even on an iPad screen, I find myself sometimes running off the edge. Alternately, you can switch on a four-button directional virtual gamepad, which at least links the discrete directions to discrete inputs, but has the problem that it’s easy to lose track of where it is while your eyes are fixed elsewhere. Finally, there’s an accelerometer-based tilt-to-move system, about which the less said the better. Edge has recently been ported to PC, and it seems like pretty much any PC-based control scheme would be easier to use than what we’ve got here on its native platform. (Sort of like Machinarium in the opposite direction.) But then, making it easy may not be the point.

Also possibly missing the point: playing it for an hour at a time, like I’ve been doing. It’s a phone game, hence it is made for quick bursts, not obsessive play. I’ll probably finish it tonight.

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