Last year, one of my comfort games (you know, the games you play when you’re too exhausted to think about anything else, or just want that sweet feeling of knowing a system inside and out) was Slay The Spire, a game I found utterly captivating with its roguelike structure and deckbuilding mechanics. Being able to construct and fiddle with a deck during a playthrough lent itself to a myriad of different tactical approaches to combat, and kept the game feeling fresh even after dozens of hours played.
So I was immediately intrigued when I heard about One Step From Eden, a new game from developer Thomas Moon Kang that’s described as a Slay The Spire-type roguelike with similar deckbuilding elements and small-scale tactical combat (reminiscent of Mega Man: Battle Network).
After spending some time with the demo, I can safely say that it’s entered the running as one of my most anticipated pre-release games of the year. The demo is only about a half-hour long for each run, if you’re playing very safe, but since the level map randomizes on each launch, I’ve played through it a couple times with different strategies and found each run to be enjoyable in a slightly different way.
If you’re familiar with the level progression of Slay The Spire or FTL, One Step From Eden will feel very familiar. Each map is represented by a series of encounters with possible paths between them. After a successful encounter, pick from up to three next rooms to advance forward through the map, and end the level with a boss fight. Interspersed with combat rooms are treasure rooms (granting new cards or items) and camps (which recover health). As each room is resolved, you can pick one of three random spell cards to add to your deck.
Combat is fast-paced and tactical, with a distinct feeling of merging bullet hell gameplay with spell-slinging. Saffron, the game’s protagonist, can hold two spells in her “hand” and cast them with available mana before pulling two more from her deck. Battles are a frantic dance of positioning in order to evade enemy attacks as you simultaneously push for advantageous lanes to target with your own spells. While initially daunting, I found myself becoming quite comfortable with the controls and tactical awareness offered to the player.
The deckbuilding elements are still very much in development, but even in the demo there are enough different cards that I found at least a couple new ones in all my playthroughs so far. Runs retain the ad-hoc design feeling of Slay The Spire’s on-your-feet deckbuilding without relying as heavily on combo usage or deep strategic thinking. Instead, One Step From Eden maintains a strong sense of style and high-tension action through limited movesets and simple but effective enemy design.
One Step From Eden is currently on Kickstarter and is planned for Windows, Mac and Linux releases, with a possible Switch port if stretch goals are met. Based on the demo, it’s a game I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Dante Douglas is a writer, poet and game developer. You can find him on Twitter at @videodante.