This is part of our series reviewing visual novels and storytelling games. You can watch our streams and hear our live reactions on Twitch.
Along the Edge is an interactive graphic novel about Daphné, a young scientist who inherits a rural estate after the death of her grandmother. Unsatisfied with her current life she moves to the countryside and soon finds herself embroiled in small-town drama. Although she was estranged from her grandmother throughout her life, she now finds herself inheriting not just an estate but also a mysterious legacy that she does not quite know how to fulfill.
The developers, Nova-Box, call this an interactive graphic novel, and there are some differences between this and your typical visual novel. This story leans heavily on novel genres like supernatural horror, folk realism, fairytales, and even supernatural romance (although there is a non-romance path). If you enjoy supernatural stories that take place in the European countryside you will definitely enjoy this novel. Along the Edge is very much a novel, albeit one with many possible endings.
Along the Edge also relies more heavily on CGs (computer graphics) and less heavily on the static character sprites most visual novel players would be familiar with. Character sprites still abound, but with over 450 full-screen illustrations, much of the story is told through brilliant, colorful images that evoke powerful emotions. During our play through we saw fiery red fall leaves, dark pools of water, faceless sphinxes, and ominous shadows dogging our footsteps.
What makes the story interactive is the incredible granularity of choice throughout the novel. Your choices impact Daphné’s appearance and personality, leading to some really cool looks. Your choices also impact the ending of the story, and with 60 potential endings this game has a ton of replayability. We’d love to do a replay and get the white-haired Daphné and learn about the path that led her there.
All of this resulted in each choice feeling important. This is an aspect that visual novels sometimes fall short on, obscuring the impact of your choice or making it unclear how your choice has changed the situation. Although there were several instances when we weren’t sure where a choice would lead us, with every choice we made we knew something was changing within the narrative. Every choice did something, and that left us feeling the impact of our choices on the narrative.
This leads to the main mechanic of the game. In addition to mechanics that you might see in a typical visual novel there is a wheel which allows you to shape Daphné’s personality. There are four quadrants, each of which corresponds to a different personality trait. Will your Daphné be grounded and scientific? Or spiritual and a bit witchy? Is your Daphné prone to letting loose? Or is she more reserved? The game telegraphs how your choice influences Daphné by lighting a symbol towards the top of the screen–star, moon, globe, and sun. Throughout the game we learned which types of choices influenced Daphné in different ways. The personality wheel was an intuitive and fun way of tracking who Daphné was becoming.
As we played we slowly unearthed the secrets of the village. Powerful politicians seemed to be leading not just with charisma, but also with sorcery. A few characters met with an untimely end, and Daphné gradually discovered her own family’s relationship to the occult.
There is no “good” ending or “bad” ending in Along the Edge. Good and bad things happen to Daphné and those around her, and she is capable of doing both good and bad as well, but the endings themselves are fully fleshed out.
We mentioned that romance is a major genre of Along the Edge and, to be honest, this was the aspect of the game we had the most frustration with. We made a choice early on not to tell Daphné’s ex-fiance where we were going, and so when he eventually tracked us down anyway it read to us as creepy and boundary-breaking. Although our Daphné repeatedly rebuffed his advances, the love interest would show up for coffee, let himself into our house, and refuse to leave when asked. We weren’t into it, but the game was written in a way where he needed to keep showing up to give us key information. We can tell the developers wanted to give us the chance to rethink our decision, but the way that it happened only entrenched our feeling of distaste for the love interest. The other major love interest had similar problems, which is perhaps why we got the achievement “One Year of Solitude” during our play through.
However, different early decisions may have made us interpret later interactions quite differently. If we had decided to tell Daphné’s ex-fiance where we were going it would have been perfectly acceptable for him to arrive later. Although this wasn’t, perhaps, how the developer intended it, our early choices did very much influence our experience of the game!
Overall, Along the Edge is a beautiful game with an engaging narrative. The setting is creepy with a hint of the occult, and you’ll spend most of your time with more questions than answers. The replayability of the game is not just in its 60 endings but also in how you will want to experience it again to learn new information and draw different connections.
Overall, this game is one we certainly won’t forget – and one we recommend to anyone who loves supernatural novels with intricate storylines and breathtaking works of art.
Given how impressed we were with Along the Edge, we are excited to play their next game, Across the Grooves, another magical realism interactive graphic novel which was released in 2020. Nova-Box is definitely a developer to watch for their fantastical storytelling and beautiful design sensibilities.
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