80 Steps From Eden
By Eric Getty Gettinger
In the recent surge of rogue games, One Step from Eden offers too much but also not enough. One Step From Eden (OSFE) has a lot in the terms of content, and unlocks, for the avid gamer who will continue to push through. While the art style and music is more of a 16 bit affair, the levels and enemies feel futuristic. The premise is rather straightforward as you are to reach Eden by progressing through maps composed of different areas. OSFE is an acquired taste for those who have played similar games and can cope with the fast paced action and plethora of items being piled on you.
This particular game harkens back to the Mega-Man Battle Network days where battle was done on a grid and abilities were fired off in real time. The grid based action allows movement on half of the tiles while the other half belong to your opponents. The attacks can reach across the grid or next to you. There is a generic attack, but the majority of actions are done as spells cast with mana. You start with limited spells and mana, and if you cast all your spells will need to wait for the spells to shuffle. If you run out of mana for the spells then you will find yourself waiting for the bar to refill. Mana and spell management is the key to success, however things will get more complicated quickly.
At the beginning of each zone map you can select the path through nodes of how you will progress. There are battle encounters, item shops, rest spots, random encounter areas and mini boss battles to move through before the end boss of the zone. The boss will look like another detailed character who looks similar to yourself in that they are not generic like most of the enemies. The real hook of the boss battle is that after you win or die (and you will die a lot), you can choose to leave the boss alive or kill them. A killing blow yields more rewards and a life spared offers you help later on.
There is a saturation point with the amount of spells, trinkets, and level ups that are happening. At the end of each battle or most of the nodes in a zone, you can pick a spell card and sometimes a trinket. When you level up you will also need to select a buff from a list of three options. So in a battle where you get a trinket and level up there will be three reward screens. To compound on that the spells that come in vary greatly depending on the character you select. For example, the base character in my latest attempt had 25 spells and 22 trinkets by the time I died. Trying to ensure you are always getting the best spells is tough, as they do not always mix and match. If you start getting trinkets to buff a poison or ice skill you have to hope that those will be the spells dropping. They won’t always and your character build can be shot. I found it best to skip spells and trinkets at a certain point or risk being trapped with spells.
Since the boss characters are unlockable through completing certain elements like obtaining levels and defeating them, OSFE needs more story. The goal is to reach Eden by battling across the different zones and defeating these other people, however there is no explanation as to why. Being given that option to kill bosses or leave them alive is an interesting take when you don’t know anything about them. They will kill you outright. At the same time in the different stages there are prisoners who are on the battle grid. Trying to keep them alive or save them from the enemies (or even yourself) is a staggering task. There were many times where because of the spells I selected I would kill a prisoner unintentionally.
One Step from Eden can be tedious, unforgiving, and a lot to take in. What it does well is offer fast paced combat in bite sized battles and quick runs. Where it suffers is from the waves of different spells and trinkets to manage and hope that you made the right choice. Since it is a rogue game, replay is high and the unlocks of new spells and characters, and subclass, you can get will easily keep anyone devoted entertained. It’s just a matter of finding the right groove and getting a little lucky. I can recommend One Step from Eden for anyone who was a fan of the Mega-Man Battle Network series but the story is shallow, so play it for the action.