There’s never been a better time to be a sci-fi fan. With Jean Luc Picard recently making his return to the small screen (bringing joy to bald cosplayers the world over in the process), and games like Journey to the Savage Planet re-envisioning the golden age of science fiction, alien planets and life beyond the stars seem closer than ever before.
Eclipse: Edge of Light continues the genre’s resurgence. A PSVR adventure – though you can play outside VR on PS4 as well – that takes you off to a mysterious alien world full of abandoned monolithic structures and ancient statues, it asks you to find the truth behind the destruction wrought by the Prophet.
You quickly gain the Artifact, a glowing metallic sphere that’s as good for activating alien technology as it is for throwing at things to break them. Offering a twist with this futuristic likely-to-cause-death baseball, you can use the Dualshock 4’s gyros to launch it across rooms, caverns or sandy vistas to solve some of the light environmental puzzles that are placed in your way.
As an atypical space explorer, you’re given a spacesuit and a cool helmet, both of which provide you with some essential gear. You can scan various items in the environment by looking them over, with a full scan revealing a tantalising titbit of information that will give you a tiny bit more insight into exactly what has happened here.
Besides that you’ve also got that most essential element of Boba Fett’s outfit: the jetpack. It not only allows you to glide slowly down from great heights – at a lovely slow pace that won’t have you needing to reach for a sick bucket while playing – you can also use its thrusters to reach higher platforms. It opens up areas that often aren’t essential to the central story, but which undoubtedly broaden your understanding of the world before you.
It’s all wonderfully atmospheric, from the abandoned temples to the lonely vistas it’s accompanied by some beautiful piano-led tones that evoke high-concept sci-fi soundtracks like Clint Mansell’s work on Moon or the atonal pieces from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s perhaps little surprise given that the music comes from Andrew Prahlow, the composer behind the incredible Outer Wilds, and at points you’ll look up to the stars, sink into the music and contemplate this alien world and its mysterious undoing.
Eclipse: Edge of Light is fundamentally a walking simulator, placing you on a set path through the world, and offering glimpses of a narrative through tablets, statues and echoes of the past that play out in front of you. There’s something to be loved in building your own picture of events, but Eclipse strays just a little too far towards the obtuse at points, while also managing to be a bit too straightforward at others.
The mental image I’d built of the Prophet, and of the world, ultimately didn’t live up to the game’s finale, but the journey there remained enjoyable. The echoes of the past, which suggest that your character is stuck in a time loop, could have made for an interesting gameplay mechanic, but don’t have any payoff beyond a few visually impactful flashes. Any deeper meaning that you might have searched for dissipates towards the end.
Playing on PSVR you control the game solely with a DualShock 4, and while it works perfectly well with free motion, it’s disappointing not to be given the choice between some kind of hybrid system with a Move controller, or a ‘click to teleport’ movement system. The throwing movement you need to perform with the Artifact screams for a more intuitive control system that the Move would offer. Once again, it makes very little sense that the Sony Navigation controller didn’t make the leap alongside the Move, or that the Move didn’t just have an analogue stick in the first place, as Eclipse is a great example of where it would be the perfect solution. Obviously this complaint is moot when playing on PC, where you have far better designed VR controllers.
The game is particularly well endowed in the comfort options at least, offering a wealth of different settings to keep your brain and your body happily in sync. You can play with a virtual helmet in place, which not only helps with the old motion sickness but also sells the fiction a little bit more, and tinker with the locomotion and turning circles too, meaning Eclipse should fit the bill for all levels of VR players.