It’s been almost 15 years since the last Mega Man Battle Network game came out and just shy of 12 years since the last entry in the spinoff-of-a-spinoff series Mega Man Star Force. Both lines of Mega Man offshoots boasted sharp character designs and entertaining plots that were tied together by an incredibly unique real-time grid-based deck-building combat system that has yet to be properly replicated since. Thankfully, with the 15th anniversary of the series rearing its head, deck-building grid-based action roguelike One Step from Eden has come to rectify that and remind us of what made those games so unforgettably fun.
Unlike the games that One Step from Eden is so clearly inspired by, this is not a lengthy story-driven RPG experience. Instead, One Step from Eden prioritizes the fast-paced deck-building gameplay above all else, delivering a roguelike experience that is light on story and heavy on combat. While characters may share brief lines of dialogue before and after boss battles, the sharp art and designs of the game merely serve as eye-catching accompaniments to the constant chaos erupting on screen. Sprite-based bullets and crystals fly across the screen as engaging, smooth electronic music tinges every battle.
Each run toward Eden sees you starting with a predetermined set of four spells that you’ll utilize in battle. Fights take place in grid-like arenas where you and your opponents both have connected 4×4 grids to maneuver in. You can have two spells available to use at once, and they reshuffle once you burn through both or press the limited Reshuffle button. You’ll need to be careful about when and how you use them, though; each spell uses up a certain amount of mana, and spells can also have very specific properties that aren’t exactly conducive to button mashing. One spell might fling a bomb four spaces in front of you, while another places a target on an enemy that allows you to attack anything else in order to deal damage to that enemy. You need to be smart about how you use your spells, while also keeping track of the actions of your enemies.
It’s a fun and sometimes chaotic combat system that rewards thoughtful deck-building, but the major issue is that One Step from Eden never gives you a chance to actually stop and strategize in the first place. You get a new spell at the end of each battle from a pool of over 200, and when you’re in battle your spell slots are shuffling every few seconds and only showing you the illustrated icon of what you have in your deck. Most battles already occupy my senses enough by having me frantically dodge bullet hell-style swarms of projectiles and hazards, but to constantly dart my eyes between the action and my deck is sometimes impossible to manage. Without any kind of way to pause the action and study what my current spells do or think up a strategy, I often found myself simply flinging spells randomly as I prioritized avoiding death above all else.
It’s a shame, too, because there really is so much engaging and interesting content in One Step from Eden. With over 200 spells and 100 stat-modifying Artifacts, on top of eight unlockable characters who each have their own weapon types and skills, there’s an astounding amount of depth to the combat and deck potential of the game. You can even grab a friend and dive into the action with them thanks to co-op and PvP modes.
Unfortunately, PvP mode sticks you with predetermined decks that you have no way of studying, and co-op has both players awkwardly split one deck instead of letting them use their own, so even these modes are fraught with some accessibility blunders. One Step from Eden has great ideas and a wealth of love put into the number of spells and abilities available; it’s just a shame that the breakneck pace and daunting multitasking requirements of the combat make it hard to appreciate all of that depth.
A review code was provided by the publisher.