Review: Eclipse: Edge of Light (PS4/PSVR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Oculus Rift

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Optional
  • PS VR Aim Controller None
  • Move None
Title: Eclipse: Edge of Light
Format: PSN (1.87 GB)
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Publisher: White Elk Studios
Developer: White Elk Studio
Original MSRP: $14.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: T
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Eclipse: Edge of Light originally launched in April of 2017 as a mobile VR game. Later that year it went on to win multiple mobile VR game of the year awards. White Elk has updated the graphics, effects, and a few features to bring this acclaimed game to PS4 and PSVR.

Eclipse is a first-person exploration game, or walking simulator. The game starts with the player crash landing on a mysterious planet. After recovering from the crash, you discover the remains of an ancient civilization that seems to have disappeared overnight.

The mystery behind the civilization largely unfolds with short audio clips after the player scans objects, mostly statues. Still, I was intrigued.

Between the story bread crumbs, players adventure along a linear path. There is no exploration but world to absorb and an atmosphere to take in.

Light puzzles also fill in the gaps between story beats. Whether playing in VR or on a TV, the game is controlled with a DualShock 4 controller. The core game mechanic is centered around throwing an orb. A slight flick of the wrist and DS4 is all it takes to send the orb flying. This mechanic could have easily become annoying very quickly.

Trying to nail down the timing of throwing an object has hampered other VR games. Instead of worrying about when to press the button or at what angle, the orb usually automatically hones in on the target you are aiming for. At times the orb would sail way above the object I wanted to hit. After the orb rolled down the wall it would be drawn to the nearby object, like a magnetic pull. Occasionally, the orb would miss altogether or fly off a cliff, but I could quickly recall the orb and it came right back to me.

Later, the player gains the ability to levitate objects. The problem is that you can’t levitate an object and move or turn at the same time, often resulting in having to pick up an object two or three times to get it in place, instead of just once.

Most of the puzzles are easy and straightforward. However, some of the puzzles walk a fine line between just challenging enough without being difficult.

While I appreciate the relaxed nature of the game, puzzles, and ease of throwing the orb, the easiness of most of the puzzles quickly becomes old. While levitation is added, there is not enough to keep the puzzles interesting.

As mentioned earlier, Eclipse can be played with a PS4 on your TV or with PSVR and a DS4. On the one hand, good on the developer for using features of the DS4 that allow non-VR users to experience the physical act of throwing the orb. On the other hand, virtual reality now adds nothing to the game.

Visuals:
The importance of how a game looks and feels can’t be understated when designing an atmospheric experience. The graphics quickly reminded me that Eclipse was originally a mobile VR game. I haven’t played the original version of the game, so I can’t speak to graphical updates made to the PS4 version. That said, I have no doubts that the game would have looked better if built from the ground up for the PS4 and not limited by mobile hardware. The fact that it is a VR game means its graphical ambitions have to be immediately limited, even for players who would never play in VR.

Like most VR games, once you really stop and look at the textures, you start to see chinks in the armor. But, it’s more than the textures. There is something about the world and environment designs that doesn’t pop. The environments are so sparse and there is not enough color variation. I search each area for vases to smash with the orb but never stop to look at the world around me.

Audio:
While the visuals are lacking, the soundtrack made me feel. Featuring original music by Andrew Prahlow, composer of the Outer Wilds, the soundtrack is the backbone of Eclipse‘s atmosphere. Prahlow managed to create something hauntingly beautiful. The orchestral swell as I stepped out into the sunlight briefly brings a glimmer of hope, but interwoven in the background of the music are haunting tones that slowly brought me back and reminded me that the story won’t have a happy ending.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only and features no online component.

Conclusion:
I can see why Eclipse: Edge of Light won mobile VR game of the year awards in 2017. Virtual reality is perfect for atmospheric games. However, VR years are like dog years. I recently tried to play some of the best VR games from a few years ago, and it is shocking how much better the best VR games of 2019 are. Developers have really started to wrap their minds around what VR can do, coming up with new and interesting mechanics while refining older ones. I enjoyed the relaxing start of my journey, but the gameplay and mechanics never changed or evolved. The game is only a few hours long but the story wasn’t really carrying me forward. I was ready to be done by the end. VR games come with higher expectations in 2020.

Eclipse can’t solely be reviewed as a VR game. The decision to make the whole experience available on PS4 without VR is an interesting choice. There is the obviously much bigger potential player base with PS4. But as a PS4 game it is hamstrung by the mobile hardware and VR foundation.

With the new big game always around the corner and VR advancing by leaps and bounds every year. Eclipse: Edge of Light has quickly aged into an all around okay game that fails to excel in any one area.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

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