Vernal Edge review

by on April 13, 2023
Release Date

March 14, 2023


There are some genres of video games that just feel overcrowded. At the time of writing it feels like we are drowning in farming games and roguelikes, so it takes something really special to stand out from the crowd. The one exception for me is the humble Metroidvania. I could play one of these gear gated delights every single day and I think I’d die a happy man. Even if you’re sick of Metroidvanias though, you’ll probably want to check out Vernal Edge.

Our titular hero Vernal is an angry teen girl. After being abandoned by her father as a child, she had a hell of a tough upbringing. Armed with a magical sword she has one goal she’s focused on, killing her dad for what he did. Well that’s not going to be particularly easy it turns out, because he’s a big shot scientist researching the Unreality and has a lot of powerful people (including a whole damn sinister religion) willing to protect him.

To make your way to daddy to commit a cheeky bit of patricide, you’ll have to use that sword effectively. The combat in Vernal Edge is absolutely the star of the show. Even at the start of the game you have a whole lot of ground, air and direction pushing combos at your disposal (with plenty of powerful spells and combo upgrades to unlock as you go) and to keep yourself safe you can either use your dash to avoid incoming damage or your block to parry and counter for some serious damage. The overall feel of the combat is just fantastic, and it only gets better as time goes on.

A screenshot of Vernal Edge

To really keep the pressure on an enemy, you’ll want to focus on breaking their guard. This means winding up a charge attack and hitting them with it multiple times. It can be tricky to pull off safely, but once you do they’ll be stunned for a significant amount of time and will be launchable in every direction. This is important because getting hit by a limp enemy also deals damage to the guard meters of other baddies, meaning that the best strategy to deal with a busy room is often to break a single guard and pinball your way to victory. It’s a seriously satisfying system, but one that’ll take a while to master.

There’s another clever combat mechanic to master in Vernal Edge too, and that’s the Pulse ability. You can only use this once you’ve got enough hits in to fill a meter, but when you do you’ll deal a powerful homing attack to an enemy that also heals you for a nice chunk of health. You can probably imagine how important this is to stay alive during epic boss battles, but you aren’t immune to damage while using it so it still requires some finesse.

When you aren’t killing waves of guards and robots, you’ll be exploring the beautiful pixel art world of Vernal Edge. The platforming is just as good as the combat, with plenty of upgrades to unlock that’ll help you reach new places every time you backtrack. Once you’ve unlocked the ability to slide down hills, jump after air dashing and wall jump you can get just about anywhere, and every time you launch yourself somewhere you couldn’t get previously it feels amazing.

A screenshot of Vernal Edge

It won’t take you long to explore all of the floating island you start on, so you’ll need to commandeer an airship and explore the skies. I was blown away when I was first let loose in the world and could go to any of the eight islands bobbing in front of me, and even as you unlock more areas of the sky to explore the feeling of freedom never lets up.

Some of the islands might be a bit tricky though, especially if you haven’t been grabbing as many upgrades as possible. The most important upgrades you find are called memories, which grant you all sorts of powerful effects like new combos, bonus pulse when you’re low on mana, and even a map of the nearby area to help with exploring. To equip these you’ll need to have enough memory points though, which you gain by finding another collectable on your adventures. There are also upgrades you can get for your max health and mana too, and before you know it Vernal will be almost unstoppable.

One of my favourite aspects of Vernal Edge is the sheer variety of gameplay you’ll find on each of the islands. One island might expect you to solve a bell ringing puzzle, another is an arena with a tricky boss waiting at the end. There are even minigames including baseball and fishing, which are an absolute blast and really help to break up all the fighting and platforming.

A screenshot of Vernal Edge

Although I have a lot of positive stuff to say about Vernal Edge, there are a couple of issues that hold it back. While the freedom of exploration is quite refreshing, without a little bit of direction it can be hard to know where you actually need to go and I got stumped multiple times. You also don’t automatically have a map when you arrive on a new island, and some don’t have them at all. Having to remember where to go in multiple locations is frankly a bit ridiculous, and makes backtracking more of a chore than it needs to be. Finally there’s also a lack of enemy variety, and with the amount of fighting you do it can be a little underwhelming to see the same soldiers over and over again.

Vernal Edge is a fantastic Metroidvania, with silky smooth combat, great movement abilities, and gorgeous pixel graphics. The freedom you have to explore this massive floating universe is really refreshing, even if the lack of direction can get frustrating. With satisfying upgrades, varied gameplay, and a host of interesting ideas, Vernal Edge isn’t one to sleep on.


Combat is superb, with loads of clever mechanics
The freedom to explore is really refreshing
Lots of meaningful upgrades
Gorgeous pixel graphics


The lack of direction means you might get stuck a few times
Starting without a map on each island sucks
The enemy variety isn't great

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Vernal Edge is a great Metroidvania game, with deep and satisfying combat, a whole lot of freedom to explore, and gorgeous pixel art.