Interactive novel is a videogame genre that in the recent years has gathered a great following. Games that were good in storytelling and blended reading with a touch of interaction existed in the early years of videogaming, in the form of text adventures. Nowadays, and with the emergence of japanese visual novels, the genre has reached a broader audience. Along the Edge, an interactive novel made by Nova-box, takes a slightly different approach, taking place in a more european setting and with elements that set it apart from other games of this genre.
Daphné is a woman who had to face a personal tragedy that left her broken. Trying to gather her pieces, she decides to leave the city life and her work, and accept the old mansion her grandmother left her, in the european countryside. There, she will learn about her family’s witchcraft past, about the animosity between her grandmother and the influential Malterres, she will get to explore the village, get to know the strangely secretive residents and, depending on the choices the player makes, she will have the chance to change the course of her future, together with her appearance.
The game is an interactive visual novel so as far as gameplay goes, there’s not much to do here except to advance the reading by pressing space. At many points in the game you will have to make a choice that affects the character, the relationships between her and the people she meets and finally the outcome of the story. There is a wheel on the top center of the screen that represents Daphné’s personality by four symbols : The Sun, The Moon, The Globe and The Star. Each time you make a choice, one or two of the symbols will light up, letting you know how it affected the game. For example, when The Sun lights up it means you made a decision that a good character would have done while The Moon represents more questionable decisions.The interesting thing is that those decisions affect not only Daphné’s personality, but her appearance too. It is a very nice touch to see your character change depending on what they believe, not only in the way they think but in the way they dress too.
What adds more to these changes is that they are represented by a beautiful visual style. Each scene is like a painting with Nicolas Fouqué using a dark palette of colours and heavy shadows that made me want to stay in every picture and notice all the little details he put in there. The artist manages to bring the village to life and in that helps that Geoffroy Vincens, the writer, based the story of the game on his rural childhood hometown, taking photographs of it during field trips. Back all this up with a melancholic piano soundtrack by Charles-Henry Martin that moves to the beats of the decisions you make and as far as the art side of the game goes, you have a winner.
The story is another strong part of the game, and it should be, since we are talking about an interactive novel. Here we have a strong woman with a scientific mind that will get to know about the witchcraft past of her estranged family, she will have the choice to dabble with the dark arts, she will learn about the curse that follows her bloodline and she will finally have the choice to fall into this world or continue in her own ways. The storyline and the choices come gradually and I did not feel that her change was sudden or out of place. Everything is backed up nicely and the player does have to make some questionable decisions, depending how they feel about the situation or the characters involved. I also found the location the game takes place very interesting, since in some ways it reminds me of the rural countryside of Greece.
Along the Edge does not have any strong negatives that I could find and could affect it in a bad way. If I have to nitpick the game, then I would definitely like some relationships, like the one with Daphné and her ex boyfriend, to be explored more. I wasn’t emotionally invested in the choices I had to make about those two later in the game, just because their relationship and their past wasn’t backed up as detailed as I believe it should. Also, if you like stories so much like I do, then the main plot of the game is not something you haven’t seen or read in one way or another, in other mediums. That doesn’t mean that the writing is not good. On the contrary, it’s gripping and makes the player want to find out what is going to happen next. Finally, there are a few times when the conversation of the characters wasn’t that clear and the decision I made wasn’t the one I wanted. The game autosaves regularly and after each choice, so there’s no way to turn back and change it, except if you start a new game. Of course, we are talking about an interactive novel so, if you don’t like reading and minimum gameplay, then this game is definitely not for you.
You can buy Along the Edge on Steam for the price of 12,99€.
Along the Edge is a beautiful interactive novel with its dark painting visual style, the gripping writing and the melancholic music to create a vivid world, set in the european countryside. Even though the main plot is not something you haven’t seen before and some relationships could be explored more, if you are a fan of interactive fiction or visual novels, you will definitely enjoy this.
+Beautifully melancholic piano music
+The character appearance changes depending on the decisions the player makes
–Some relationships could be explored more
–The main plot is not something you haven’t seen before
–Some conversations are not clear and may lead you to the wrong decision
Score : 8,2/10
-Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas