If you’ve already heard of EDGE, it’s perhaps because of its involvement in the strange saga of Tim Langdell rather than because you've played the unassuming iOS game that brought it all to light. That infamous fellow is a sometime game developer who attempted to trademark the word ‘edge' and then employ legal strong-arming against any other game that dared to use it. Langdell eventually bit off more than he could chew when he tried to take on the not-inconsiderable might of EA for its Mirror’s Edge, and now the contentious four-letter word finally seems free of its litigious shackles.
Somewhere in the middle of all this was clever iPhone puzzle-platformer Edge, which found itself on the receiving end of various threats, enforced name-changes and even a temporary eviction from the App Store. A couple of years and a lot of headlines later, it’s back to its original title (now triumphantly capitalised) and newly revamped for PC and Mac.
While still inherently a simple game in terms of controls, it’s not held back by its phone origins. Its minimalist, cube-based levels scale up entirely convincingly to crisp high resolutions, while the precise up-down-left-right movement is perfectly suited to a keyboard.
Edge is perhaps more complicated to explain than it is to play, but here goes: you control a cube, steering it across puzzle-filled, similarly cubist levels/courses to an exit by flipping it 90 degrees at a time. For the most part, it’s not inherently taxing – but your performance is graded based on how fast you can get beat a level. So, while absolute precision and careful thinking is required to prevent an errant button-press sending the cube tumbling off an edge – there’s that word again – you’ll also be in a desperate hurry in order to try and nab the fable S or S+ ratings.
This means disaster - by way of hitting the wrong direction key or mis-timing a flick onto one of the many moving or shape-changing platforms - is regular. No matter: Edge is generous with its checkpoints, restoring you to a position from which you can quickly continue even if that super-high score is unlikely without a level restart.
Added to these core challenges of haste, logic and reflex is how impressively it mixes things up despite, in many ways, always looking more or less the same. Rarely simply a matter of trundling around a narrow course trying not to fall off, instead it’ll throw moving or even transforming platforms on you, sudden accelerations, morphing obstacles or even enemies, of a sort, at you. Its 40 levels won’t last you all that long in and of themselves, but the combination of their sheer variety and the itch to go back and outperform yourself makes Edge far more substantial than it might superficially appear.
Less happily, its minimalism perhaps goes a bit too far at times, with crucial mechanics such as the effects of picking up small, glowing cubes and teetering on the edges of ledges all but unmentioned by the game, yet absolutely necessary to attain the highest grades. Plus, the resolutely fixed camera means routes and pickups are sometimes hidden and aggravating to access. Perhaps it’s right to stay faithful to the iOS original, but the option to shift the perspective just a little for this more technologically capable platform could have made a meaningful difference.
Despite these small frustrations, Edge is slick and varied affair with far more to offer than its clean, simple aesthetics might suggest, and manages a deft translation from phone game to PC game.