This must be the year of the rogue-like games because we have one more coming our way in the form of One Step From Eden. While this game in actuality is equal parts deck-building and real-time action, and Roguelike, it comes together to feel like one of the most engaging gaming experiences I’ve had in a long time. There are three core elements to this game and I’m going to need to explain them each thoroughly to best show how this game mixes these genres to perfection.
A Gameplay Overview
One Step From Eden takes a player through ten levels which have seven stages/battles that the player must navigate to finish the game. The battle takes place on two, four by four platforms, and players/enemies will stay on their side for the most part and use weapons, abilities, spells, and other things to attack the opponents. Each character that a player can use will have a unique weapon or ability which combines well with their starting deck. At the end of each stage or battle, players are given a choice between three cards to add to their deck. As they progress their run, they will also gather passive abilities, rescue people that can grant artifacts, and many other things to make each run very unique. There is a boss at the end of each level, and they are very tough but fair. I was really impressed with the bosses and how unique each one is: their abilities, fight patterns, and physical design. As players go through runs, the farther they progress the more they will unlock in the game, this includes skins, characters, new cards in the deck-building pool, and more. This game has so many other mechanics and bits and pieces including a PVP mode, co-op, and harder difficulties that make this game very high in content quality and quantity.
Building A Deck
Each card is very unique, and I have no idea how many there are in total because I am currently still unlocking them as of writing this review. There are ten types of cards that can be added to your deck. The different types include cards of pure damage, freezing, fire, poison, deck manipulation, turrets, shields, field alteration, and more. Along with all these types and individual cards in each type, cards can be upgraded multiple times in individual runs. Players can remove cards from the decks, choose not to buy any cards in order to keep their deck more focused. And the best part about all of this is that if a player just wants to spam spells and now worry so much about deck building, things will work pretty well too! The game rewards players for synergizing cards and investing in deck alteration, but will also never punish players if they choose whatever spell looks the coolest. I am baffled by the depth and balance of the deck building mechanics of the game and how well it syncs with the other parts of One Step From Eden.
From the beginning of a run to the final moments, the action and gameplay always feel thrilling, engaging, and exciting. Just moving around the area while dodging enemy attacks and lining up the most basic of spells feels like a slick ballet of attack and avoid. As players grow and refine their deck in a particular run, play styles and strategies will form. Each run and deck built will do better the more it reflects and synergizes with the character and their weapon. For example, there is a character that only has a melee attack immediately in front of them. However, when they attack their own built structures/turrets, the structure will gain a shield, keeping it alive longer and as a barrier for your character. The player is then incentivized to invest in a deck of turrets and certain direct attack spells or field manipulation. This is one example of one character’s weapon and a particular strategy. There are nine characters and at least two weapons for each of them. It is truly amazing how many ways there are to play and how each choice feels so important and interesting.
Not Unlike a Roguelike
When a player dies, their run is done for good. Their deck, their modifications, and progress is gone. This is fundamental Roguelike gameplay, and One Step From Eden nails this concept better than anything I’ve seen this year. When I died in each run, I never felt cheated or felt a horrible loss because I felt so powerful and had almost about as much fun on the very first stage as I did right before I died. This is a testament to how good the gameplay in general feels. The progression out of run also felt extremely rewarding and generous, the further I got, the more I unlocked. From characters to costumes and different weapons to new cards/passives, it is great that One Step From Eden is a little kinder to its players in out-of-run rewards.
A Sight To Behold
This game is no Last Of Us Part 2, it isn’t DOOM, Overwatch, Forza, or Cuphead. But the pixelated graphics, vibrant colors, and detailed design of each character, ability, and enemy come together in the beautiful little package. The battles get very intense and become visually busy. But after playing for an hour or two, it became much easier to see telegraphed enemy attacks, see where my attacks were landing and where enemies were going. The game’s visuals may not be everyone’s favorite, but the crisp and slick movements, great animations, wonderful use of color, and getting the most out of every pixel will please everyone in some way.
Steps to Perfection
I play a lot of games, a vast variety for many hours because of my job and my love for gaming. But this game kept me enthralled for hours in my first sitting, more than some of my favorite games of all time. Even now, I still want to go back and play more and more. It isn’t an easy game, there is a learning curve and the bosses can be particularly tough the first times playing through. However, it is meant to be a challenge and teach players how to best play the game, not punish them for being newbies. This is easily one of the best games I’ve played this year if not the best and I couldn’t recommend it enough.