One Step From Eden Review

April 15, 2020
Also on: Switch
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The elevator where One Step From Eden was pitched must have been really slow. Self-described as a game where players “build a powerful deck, find game-changing artifacts, make friends or enemies and just make it to Eden”, One Step From Eden is in a genre almost of its own. Part bullet hell shooter, part card game and part strategy-RPG, the game promises a unique experience but offers one that’s mediocre save for a select few moments.

The first thing that players will notice when booting up One Step From Eden is that there is no tutorial. This may seem like a weird place to start a review, but the lack of a tutorial is the game’s most telling and important aspect. One Step From Eden is a brutally difficult game that’s totally unwelcoming to new players. Although this isn’t a bad thing by itself, the problem is that the game’s high difficulty simply feels unfair, particularly in boss battles. Boss battles in One Step From Eden involve players using their weapons to attack the boss moving around the game’s gridlike arenas to dodge attacks. It’s not exactly rocket science, but because bosses have high damage hitscan weapons and insane amounts of health, players will often get killed before they know what’s going on.

The difficult boss battles are made even more difficult by the game’s principle mechanic of deck building. In One Step From Eden, players are given cards that act as spells to use during battles. These cards, which have an insane amount of variety, need to be put in the correct order and cast on specific enemies if players want to use them to their full potential. It’s a cool and mostly unique mechanic, but the problem is that it’s overly complex and never explained in game. The difference between a spell that looks like a gold tornado and one that looks like a green knife should be obvious, but because of how detailed the card system is, they both produce unexpected outcomes. This forces players to spend a lot of time looking up how to play the game on a search engine, which is one of the worst things a game can do.

Who would win? An anime girl or the Grim Reaper?

Once players look up how to play the game, however, the encounters in between boss battles are immensely enjoyable experiences. They involve players moving around the battlefield to dodge attacks while monitoring the enemy’s locations in order to attack them, all while also watching what weapons they have equipped so they can cast the right attacks at the right times. There’s a lot to keep track of on screen, but these non-boss battle encounters are fun and satisfying to play through. Beating these fights requires just enough skill to make players feel accomplished, but are never too hard as to become frustrating. 

Non-boss battles are made especially enjoyable because they provide useful rewards. At the end of each fight, players are given one additional spell as well as experience that slowly unlocks powerful upgrades. They also get money that can be spent on a vendor which is found at random points throughout each playthrough. All these make for a simple and satisfying gameplay loop that simply makes sense. 

The gameplay loop is made even more entertaining because of the huge variety of environments that everything takes place in. In One Step From Eden, there are four distinct biomes that players will fight in, each with its own unique set of enemies and visuals. This diversity ensures that no two runs in this roguelite ever play exactly the same, and this also helps make the learning process slightly more enjoyable.

You’re right about that one, bud

What doesn’t help the learning process is the game’s bland music. Although this may seem like another minor point, it’s important for a game without a lot of background noise to have solid music. However, One Step From Eden’s music is generic at best and bad at worst. While the roguelite genre is known for its solid tunes, the music in this entry simply makes the game less memorable than it already is.

This is slightly offset by the game’s interesting visuals, however. Although pixel graphics aren’t something that need to be admired like they once were, the visuals in One Step From Eden are weirdly cute and mesmerising. They’re simple enough to make the game’s most intense battles not feel cluttered while also having enough detail to keep players glued to their screens. 

The game’s more bland elements are mostly counteracted by the huge diversity in characters. In One Step From Eden, there are over ten characters to choose from, each of whom has a very unique playstyle. This variety gives the game an insane amount of replayability which when combined with the game’s diversity in levels and its generally fun combat, makes the game feel worth its price tag.

Although they’re frustrating, the bosses are unique much like the characters. 

As a package, though, One Step From Eden is a game that’s difficult to recommend to anyone who isn’t a hardcore fan of the roguelite genre. There’s tons of variety to the game and an almost infinite amount of replayability, but the game requires extensive research on Google to figure out how everything works. When coupled with boss battles that simply feel broken, you may prefer a more welcoming entry in the genre such as Slay The Spire.

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One Step From Eden has an interesting premise, surprisingly deep mechanics and an insane amount of content, but as a result of unfair bosses and no tutorial, it’s a tough sell to anyone who isn’t a diehard fan of the genre.
Derek Johnson

Somebody once told me the world was going to roll me, and they were right. I love games that let me take good-looking screenshots and ones that make me depressed, so long as the game doesn't overstay its welcome.