You’ve broken up with your boyfriend. You’ve moved to the massive country estate you’ve just inherited. So let’s chalk up relationships and small-town politics. That’s two elements. But the rule of three; three is always better than two. So what other ingredient do we find in this interactive visual novel? It’s obvious: witchcraft.

It’s a compelling combination though. You take the role of Daphne, guiding her choices and conversations, which in turn determine the course of the story. Those choices essentially fall into pleasant and aggressive, spiritual and sceptical, and the balance of those influences Daphne’s appearance and actions, and have significant impact on those around her.

The range of story arcs is impressive: characters come and go, live and die as a result of your choices, and if you go hard down some routes, the game goes to some enjoyably extreme places – don’t forget the witchcraft.

There’s some emotional heft too: the game covers adult themes (not like that – though also like that), and the characters really grew on me, particularly after multiple playthroughs. One particular turn of the story made me as good as swoon, and I felt real pride at Daphne finding professional success.

That’s despite some occasionally awkward writing, mixing overly formal language with odd colloquialisms, which can only be the result of a slightly rushed translation job. It’s also perverse that those varied arcs can lead to sixty different endings, but each of those requires a full hours-long playthrough: there’s no returning to a completed save to change a decision midway through. And it’s not always obvious what impact a given decision will have, which is frustrating if you’re trying to, for example, consistently be an absolute shit to everyone, to see what that does.

Multiple playthroughs are enjoyable though, not just in story terms, but also in seeing how some scenes come about in different ways, hinting at the mechanics underlying the branching narrative.

The art style – a mixture of painterly scenes and more graphic characters – and the soundtrack are well-judged accompaniments. But ultimately it’s that mix of romance, local rivalries and the occult that wins through.

Along the Edge is out now on Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC and Mac.

SCORE
7