When you’re a spunky lady, full of resentment, in possession of a really cool sword, with an unquenchable thirst for revenge… well, then your name is probably Vernal and you’re likely the main character in the video game Vernal Edge.
Falling off an airship mid-battle onto a floating island below we meet Vernal: an angry young woman on a mission to kill her father. Vernal is a no-nonsense protagonist who doesn’t have time for pointless things like reading (she can’t), small talk (she won’t), or generally anything that gets in the way of her goal: revenge.
After reluctantly teaming up with a robot who can’t remember anything, including how they happened to become a robot, we hop on our very own airship and take to the skies; traveling around the floating islands that constitute the land of Haricot in search of clues and powerups so that when Vernal finally confronts her father she will kill him dead!
Vernal Edge is a 2D Metroidvania, and as such you will spend a lot of time bouncing around from area to area, acquiring new memories, spells, and powers to help you progress through the game. From wall jumping to wall running, you’ll uncover the many mysteries of Haricot.
Upping the ante, Vernal’s sword can literally rip a hole in reality and allow her to enter unreality. The unreality is full of fantastic pixel art reminiscent of old-school Castlevania games on the NES and SNES. It is a nice juxtaposition with the stunning artwork of the various islands themselves. It’s a feast for the eyes indeed.
The combat and gameplay mechanics feel so smooth. Vernal can execute all kinds of attacks both with her sword and magic. You collect spells throughout your journey and customize which four you like the best to use at your leisure. Once Vernal learns to dash, you’ll find yourself zipping and swinging all over the terrain fighting strange baddies and collecting upgrades.
The story is engaging, and it’s made even more engaging because of the very strong character of Vernal. There are countless main characters in video games who start off as unsure, lacking confidence in themselves, and who generally feel like they aren’t good enough: it’s been done. Luckily for us, Vernal is the exact opposite of that. Vernal knows that she is a good fighter, she’s not interested in standing around listening to boring stories when she could be taking concrete action. It’s refreshing, and she’s just as engaging of a character with an intricate journey to go on and grow from as the more pathetic main characters that seem to crop up more frequently.
The game has different difficulty settings to keep all types of gamers feeling appropriately challenged. The soundtrack is lovely to listen to as well. As I always say about 2D Metroidvanias, I find it easier to use the D-Pad than an analog stick any day; I can confirm that the Switch SNES controllers are compatible and feel better than the standard joy-cons but to each their own of course.
Vernal Edge is a superb addition to the Metroidvania genre and is a worthy purchase for any Switch owner. If you’ve never played a game like this, it’s a good place to start.
Vernal Edge £19.79
Vernal Edge is an engaging Metroidvania with a compelling protagonist, an intriguing story, and fantastic gameplay and combat mechanics that will make you forget you’ve been playing for hours.