Let’s flash back to 2010. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was released and completely redefined what I wanted from a Spider-Man game. Four different Spider-Men, four distinct and beautiful art styles, fantastic boss fights, and solid combat and stealth kept that title in high regards in my brain. Hell, I’d go as far as to say that it was one of my favorite games of last year. So how does Beenox follow this up shocking success? After completing their new title, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, I’d say halving the number of Spider-Men and rushing it in just over a year absolutely was not the way to go about it.
Contrary to the rest of the plot, Edge of Time starts on a good foot. Regular Spider-Man unexpectedly dies within the first few minutes and Spider-Man 2099 (who somehow sees it) makes an effort to save him and also has to stop the Alchemex CEO from messing up events via time travel in the past… or the present… which might be the future depending on the Spider-Man you are controlling. Time travel ideas always sound cool but they always fall victim to becoming confusing and overly complex. Spider-Man: Edge of Time is no different.
Very small amounts of story may start making sense after some time, but it doesn’t go very far. They literally will make up words or phrases for explaining events which comes off as lazy. “Quantum causality” and “chronal links” are thrown around to explain just about everything to the point where some of the dialogue reflects how dumb it actually is. A few semi-interesting events unfold and I like the Spider-Men at times (except for when Spidey 2099 uses “shock” as an equivalent for “fuck”), but they are but a small space rock in the void of nothingness that is the story.
If I had to pick one thing that I associate Spider-Man with, it would have to be web swinging. Unfortunately, it doesn’t capture that web-slinging Spider-Man spirit in any engaging way. Levels are far too linear and enclosed to allow for much swinging around. Shattered Dimensions was linear, but had enough wide open sections to stretch your webbing and swing away to your heart’s content. Edge of Time takes place exclusively in bland corridors and rooms inside of the Alchemex facility, leaving almost no room to swing unabated. Because of this flaw, Edge of Time feels like it could have been swapped out with just about any generic hero and still felt the same. I wanted to swing so much and leave enough white, sticky webbing to have it look like a… well, use your imagination.
But if swinging feels undermined, all of the time had to have gone into tuning and refining the combat, right? Sort of, but it is executed in a way that almost kills the fact that any improvements were made. Beating up bad guys in Shattered Dimensions was a surprising joy and Edge of Time carries over a lot of the same moves along with adding some more to the mix. Stringing together combos is smooth and pretty fun as it utilizes similar combos to the earlier God of War games, but retains enough of Spidey to feel different. It’s easy and visually exciting to juggle opponents and whip them around in the webs you create. The dagger to heart is how the fights are set up.
Enemies continuously pour in at an alarming rate and completely kill any sort of fun by making every fight a monotonous slog. Yes, I like the core combat, but once I’ve killed the 35th enemy in the room and a few dozen still remain, it just becomes mindless and boring. I began to skip all the fights that I could because killing everything just wasn’t practical. A better approach would be just to have fewer, more intelligent enemies, rather than swarms of enemies with the AI of Chris from Family Guy.
I have a feeling that Edge of Time was a only a few hours when all was said and done. In order to extend the life of the game, someone thought it was a brilliant idea to have some way to halt your progress in nearly every room. Spider-Man collects more keys than a janitor and is constantly unlocking some sort of mechanism or having to backtrack to shoot some conveniently placed tentacles. You walk into a room, dozens of enemies spawn, and you literally need to beat the keys out of a few of them to progress. Then the tedious cycle repeats and repeats until you fight the last bosses. I always felt like I was being held up and was constantly being shuffled into ways to help pad out the already short game. Rushed barely begins to describe how the progression felt.
Actually, I shouldn’t limit the feeling of being rushed to the progression; everything feels like it was prematurely pushed out the door. Having four art styles has fallen at the wayside for a more generic direction. It doesn’t look terrible, but it is artistically boring and lacking an identity. Super-clean futuristic corridors must have been easy to render because that is all the game is. Boss fights are nonexistent outside of a few lame instances (complete with bad checkpoints) which is doubly disappointing due to Shattered Dimensions‘ numerous, quality fights spread throughout the many levels. Every weak aspect (especially the entirety of the last paragraph) overtly amplifies my suspicions that the game was rushed out to the market.
I played through Spider-Man: Edge of Time similar to its development cycle: nearly sleepy and as quick as possible. Falling drastically short of the quality bar set by its predecessor was disappointing, but it is a lackluster game regardless of comparisons. It might be harsh but someone might need to squash this spider and have him shrivel in the sun. Either that or we can use that all-powerful “quantum causality” bullshit to go back in time and get a better, more fleshed out Spider-Man game.
+Combat has its moments
+Spider-man can be kind of endearing
-Linear, boring level design with an art style to match
-Repetitive enemies cause combat to become boring
-Too many keys to collect in addition to other meaningless ways to halt your progress
-Inferior and rushed in a lot of ways
-Checkpoints are less than ideal
Final Score: 6/10