Pokemon Edge Rising is a standalone mod that takes the usual Pokemon formula and shapes it into something quite unique with its dark sense of humor. Right from the start, you are greeted with the song “The Sound of Silence” and are introduced to Dr. Kao who explains the game’s mechanics alongside the futilely of life. You are given a choice to choose either a male or female but either option will end in the latter being incinerated as the story is built around a male protagonist. We are however allowed to change his name which is Fang by default but with so much angst from the get-go I named him Edge, so let’s go with that.
Starting off our adventure, we find ourselves aimlessly peering out aimlessly into the sea and pondering life’s biggest questions before our brother, appropriately named Bro, suddenly shows up to ask us if we want some Rocky Road. Completely ignoring him he buggers off to buy said ice cream anyways and eventually, you make your way back home to an equally tragic yet amusing scene. A giant Magikarp/Charizard mixed breed Pokemon has Edge’s mom in its grips, and the brothers are helpless to stop it, all the while an Attack on Titan song blasts in the background. This is just a bare-bones summary of the opening to give you a taste of what you can expect from this mod and is really something you should experience for yourself.
After that bit of comedy gold occurs, five years will pass, and you’ll finally be given control of your character in order to exact your revenge on all giant Pokemon. Why all giant Pokemon? Because our character is always at 11 and anytime he opens his mouth will likely have you grinning. His brother, on the other hand, is always at 0 and in stark contrast is one of the most laid-back characters you’ll ever see. This dynamic of a crazed psychopath and a nonchalant jokester works really well yet they are not just one-dimensional characters and will grow over time. You may also find yourself becoming attached to many other characters that at first may make you cringe such as Mako.
Strong characters and good humor in a Pokemon game go a long way since you will want to hear what kind of dumb, strange or maybe even useful things the NPCs loitering around town will say, making the world feel more alive. For example, on your way to go pick up your Pokemon you will encounter a creepy old man that wants to give you candy, a girl literally named Yahn Dere that calls you senpai and if you make your way inside a certain house, a man that has bondage gear upstairs asking if you are ready for the time of your life. Answering yes to that question will cause him to turn around in joy and notice you are a kid before telling you to please leave. Needless to say, this isn’t exactly the type of humor that sits well with everyone and is not a mod suited for children.
All of this and we still haven’t even got our Pokemon. This mod has a ton of text to read through and will eat up even more of your time if you go exploring and socializing with the insane people of this region. Luckily the writing nearly always remains good and unpredictable, so reading text is more like a reward for getting through the fighting bits. In any case, we get to choose from one of three starting Pokemon to join you in your quest for vengeance against “Big Pokemon” with the other two you don’t choose being given to both your brother and your rival. Indeed, almost as soon you get your Pokemon of choice you will be challenged to a rather justified fight by your rival. There is nothing really to say about the combat as the formula remains completely unchanged with the only thing added being new creatures to capture alongside a few battles that involve two against two.
For those that have never played a Pokemon game and for some reason want this to be their first the simplest way to explain the combat is a rock, paper, scissors type ordeal where every element has both an advantage and a weakness to something else. Adding in stats, support items that you can use on your Pokemon and the limit of each creature only being able to have four moves makes this more tactical than it may seem at a glance which does guarantee victory even if you have the elemental advantage. The real difference to this mod comes after you win a battle against another trainer. You see, once you emerge victorious, it is now legal for you to kill your opponent if you so please and losing to a gym leader will always cost you your life to up the stakes.
People that kill without a first winning a Pokemon battle are looked at with disgust and hunted down by the rather ineffective police force that this hell hole of a region has. Unnecessarily enough this game has a ton of lore explaining how things got this way and stranger still is that it is pretty darn interesting. This mod is now canon to me. Anyways, back to your moral “dilemma” of murdering people you’ve beaten. You can let them go free, and in return gain nothing or you can slay them on the spot, in turn gaining some cash from looting their corpse. Yeah, you can immediately murder your rival in front of his grandpa Dr. Kao which is messed up but somehow still funny.
Like the gender choice at the beginning, anything you pick will not affect the story in any way other than changing the dialogue when a certain character won’t stay dead and pops up again down the road like Kenny from South Park. You will travel across a rather large world in search for those giant Pokemon and in the process involve yourself into other unrelated events. This whole adventure took me about 7 hours to complete and while the low brow humor pertains throughout, bizarrely enough the plot becomes very engaging and constantly plays with your expectations. The ending for example, it will flip the game on its head, and everything you’ve done prior will suddenly be obsolete. During this time, the game will warn you that saving will overwrite everything you’ve accomplished but don’t worry as you will regain it all later on.
Pokemon Edge Rising uses a ton of licensed music throughout, none more so than Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me to Life’ that is played in most of the non-boss battles. As anyone that has ever tried to walk across a small patch of grass in a Pokemon game can tell you, you will constantly be ambushed by every bloody severely outmatched creature in the vicinity. As you can guess, by the time you finish the game, one will be unable to hear that song for the next few decades without twitching uncontrollably. Every other track they use is placed well and ranges from sources like Persona 3 to the Mad Max movie. It is all listed in the credits file in the root folder of the game minus the song that plays when you meet Dr. Kao which is called ‘Stressed Out’ by twenty one pilots. On a semi-related note, one has to copy over the Fonts folder from the game to the Windows Folder in order for the text to display correctly.
This was quite an odd way to return to the Pokemon franchise after not having truly played one since the Red & Blue days and was done so entirely out of curiosity. It was simply said quite a surprise that Rising Edge turned out to be so darn good all the way from its story, humor and especially its characters. Gameplay wise it adds nothing new aside from the tough giant Pokemon that you have to defeat but what truly makes it shine is its “because we can” attitude while still holding back enough to not just be a string of meaningless random stuff occurring. It is aware of how dumb the base premise is and will joke about itself frequently with tongue firmly in cheek. This is certainly not an adventure I’ll be forgetting anytime soon and for those that like dark humor, Pokemon Edge Rising is well worth checking out.
Link to download: Pokemon Edge Rising