Planet Cube: Edge Review
I’m certainly showing my age here, but, when I first started gaming there wasn’t any ability to save your game. When my parents bought me a Sega Mega Drive 2 (or the Genesis for certain markets) it came with a copy of Sonic The Hedgehog 2. It took me many goes, many failed attempts and a lucky cap for me to finally beat the game. The sense of accomplishment I felt at that age was immense and whilst I did pause the game here and there it was all done without being able to save my progress and come back later; if I died and none spare it was back to the start. Despite this lingering peril, from what I can remember, I really enjoyed Sonic 2 — okay, Tails was annoying but still it was fun — and I never felt the game was deliberately being difficult.
With the popularity of Souls-like games, however, I feel that, over time, there’s a desire by some developers to make their games obtusely hard and claim it’s part of the charm. I totally understand why people like the challenge but there’s a very fine line between challenging and borderline infuriating. Most of my time with Planet Cube: Edge has fallen squarely in the latter which is a shame, but despite my best attempts to enjoy this precision platformer I kept getting within an inch of hurling a controller. Thankfully, if there’s one thing I’ve gained during my near forty years on this planet is the ability to remind myself that I’ll be the one paying for the new controller and the TV so best not to hurl it if I’m not willing to replace it.
There is a story to Planet Cube: Edge but it merely acts as a catalyst between levels. Your character, Senior Technician Edge, finds himself as the sole cube who can save their planet’s water from being stolen. As you progress through each level, you’re aided by Dr. Quadratus to banish these assailants from your planet. Along the way you’ll come up against a few bosses but, interestingly, I found these main boss battles a breeze when compared to the levels that preceded their arrival. These encounters merely require you to learn the patterns then figure out how to properly use your tools, a blaster and a jetpack, to get the best of them.
The levels outside of that, well, whilst Planet Cube: Edge may be a precision platformer I feel it’s more apt to describe it as a great way to test your patience. I’m no stranger to these types of games. I’ve made my way through Super Meat Boy and whilst I find there’s spots where I got stuck for a little while, I knew that my inability to proceed was my skill and not because the level design bordered on cruel. Having to mix up shots to power doors (that time out), with jetpack jumps to get across, all the while battling enemies is a tough task. Having to keep doing it because Edge’s pinky tickled a spike or you mistimed the jet-dash by a fraction turns your enjoyment of a level very quickly. Some of these levels took me nearly two hours to complete, countless deaths and a few choice words I had to internalise so I didn’t traumatise my kids.
Considering Planet Edge: Cube is only eight levels in length I can understand wanting to make those levels last. Though puzzles and enemy traps have almost zero margin for error and it feels like a cheap way to extend the playtime. This is then sometimes compounded by controls that, to me, felt a little imprecise. It’s easy to blame your tools when you’re performing badly but when you’re trying to nail a movement combo only for your input to be missed or delayed, the number of repeat deaths just keeps on sapping one’s enjoyment. I don’t mind admitting when I suck at a game but it’s worse when I feel like I’m pressing all the right things but what’s happening on-screen isn’t what you wanted to happen.
This is, really, Planet Edge: Cube’s biggest issue. There’s nothing remarkable about it to make it stand out from the crowd other than it’s very difficult. That’s its entire hook and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, when that hook is made harder through imprecise controls what remains isn’t enough. The music is okay but repetitive. The levels focus on repeating themselves and its enemies with the only differentiator being the backdrop and introducing newer ways of making traversing levels more difficult. The character animations are pretty good and the pixel-art is top notch but none of these are enough to compensate for the rage its challenge can produce.
Ultimately my time spent with Planet Cube: Edge was not a fun one and for me, having fun is a cornerstone of gaming. That’s not to say a game can’t be a challenge because beating a particularly hard level or boss is probably one of the best feelings to have whilst gaming. I made a mission to complete the original Gears of War trilogy on Xbox with a friend on insane difficulty and it remains an achievement I’m proud of. Despite this, I don’t feel that making a game really hard can survive on its own merits and if you’re going to make something tough then you need to make it fun too.
There will be gamers out there who will love Planet Cube: Edge and the challenge contained within. However, unless the controls are sharpened up and its difficulty tweaked it will remain a game that I won’t return to. There are leaderboards and challenges to beat but I have absolutely no desire to put myself through hours of additional frustration just for kicks.
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