One Step From Eden Review – Stepping Hard

Overview

One Step From Eden is a rogue-lite deck builder with a pretty significant twist. The game is played in real-time. You move around the small gridded battlefield dodging and slinging spells without the comfort of your enemies waiting their turn.

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Don’t be fooled, however, One Step From Eden is not a mindless action game. It taps into a variety of your skills to succeed, and will relentlessly beat you to a pulp unless you adapt. You have to form a deck-building strategy while learning to memorize and execute the cards in your deck in real-time. In addition, you have to adapt to every enemy’s attack pattern and cues.

A boss fight against the violin wielding Violet in One Step From Eden.
Boss Fights are Brutal

It can be overwhelming at first. There’s a lot to keep track of and think about with only seconds to spare before you get hit in the face. It’s one of those games you can definitely feel yourself getting better at with each run, and it makes those victories very satisfying.

Bias & Information

Review Copy Used: No                               Genre: Rogue-lite Deckbuilder                                                   
Hours Played: 20+                                  Platforms PC, Xbox Platforms, PS4, Switch.
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X                         Type: Full Release
Fan of Genre: Yes                                  Publisher: Humble Games
Mode Plyaed: N/A                                   Price: $19.99

Gameplay

Most characters in One Step From Eden need to be unlocked. Each one is a type of spellcaster that specializes in different play styles. At the same time, they all can be built and adapted to use different strategies.

A character like Gunner doesn’t have any mana regen at first but charges it by blasting enemies with his gun instead. Hazel specializes in placing structures like turrets while another can break tiles with her basic attack.

No matter which character you play, the game does a really great job of capturing its magical theme. The various cards you play definitely make you feel like some kind of wizard and the visual effects are excellent. Fireballs, Lightning Strikes, and Ice Storms all have satisfying impacts.

Gunner uses his laser cannon in One Step From Eden.
The Spell effects are all pretty rad.

You cycle through the cards in your deck, two at a time, with each one being drawn randomly. Playing cards require mana, which also regenerates in real-time.

After every battle, you usually get to pick a card to add to your deck and sometimes an artifact. Each time you level up, you also choose a bonus, such as faster magic regeneration. Every single one of these decisions is crucial to your success.

Fast Paced Strategy

One Step From Eden is one of the most challenging games that I have played within the genre. Its two-pronged approach of strategy and physical skill is difficult to overcome. You can’t rely on just one of them. A great deck will fail if your real-time performance is poor. If you’re great at dodging attacks but your deck sucks, you will lose due to attrition. The boss fights are no joke.

The card selection screen in One Step From Eden.
You usually get a card after every battle, though you can decline to take one if they don’t fit your strategy.

As with most rogue-lite games, randomness is ever-present. But you are able to twist and bend it in your favor, and that’s a hallmark of a great rogue-lite game. In addition to buying cards and artifacts from a store, you can also choose up to two schools of magic to focus on. Doing so ensures more of those types of cards appear in post-battle card selections.

The paths you choose to progress have a massive impact on the game once you understand the rewards for each kind of encounter. Hazard zones generally gift artifacts, and mini-boss battles reward better cards. Distress signals have several different types of rewards if you can save someone during the fight.

Each type of environment has two potential bosses. The boss’s power levels and attacks change depending on how far into the run you encounter them. If you have trouble with one type of boss with the specific build you’re going for, you can attempt to fight them early on when they are weaker, rather than later.

The character selection screen showing Shiso in One Step From Eden.
Each character has a different playstyle but can also be molded to your taste.

One Step From Eden Choices

One Step From Eden’s degree of player choice not only means it’s a highly replayable game, but it also ensures that it’s a game you win purely from your own merits. Success in One Step From Eden is never the result of a lucky run. You can come up with incredibly strong card combos, but it’s never enough to carry you on its own.

Victory comes from the choices you make, and your skill at wielding those combos in battle. It’s a cohesive package of game mechanics executed incredibly well.

You can pursue a massive variety of strategies and combos, and the game mechanics reflect those playstyles back to you in great ways, as nearly everything that can affect your enemies can affect you.

You can break tiles on the enemies’ board to limit their movement, but they can do the same to you. Anyone struck with the frozen condition three times takes massive damage, and fire burns anything in its tile.

Hazel Shields a turret using her wrench.
Hazel can shield the structures she makes.

Pattern Learning

Most of the bosses are actually the other characters you can play as, and their own attacks tend to be buffed up variations of the same spells you have access to.

You’re rewarded for learning the habits of every enemy and character. Basic enemies rarely bring you down alone. But they sap your precious health prior to a boss fight, so you must exercise the same kind of caution and respect that you do in the boss fights. I hate to make a Dark Souls comparison, but it strikes the same chords, game design philosophy, and satisfaction from winning, while also adding the immense variety and replay value of a rogue-lite deck-building game.

You can also play One Step From Eden in co-op, but it feels tacked on, as the players share health, use the same deck, and the second player is a clone of the first. The PvP mode feels like an afterthought as well. An interesting occasional outing but it lacks the same heart and soul that’s present in the rest of the game.

Verdict

One Step From Eden is a brilliant game with a low price that leaves me with very little to criticize. It’s a blast to play, great to look at, and offers a ton of replay value. Even after you unlock all the characters and beat the game, you open up increasing levels of difficulty similar to ascension levels in Slay the Spire.

Shiso battles a variety if creatures with his revolver.
You have to be cautious even with normal enemies.

The game is certainly not for everyone. The real-time component is likely to grind against some traditional deck-builder fans, and its unforgiving difficulty pulls no punches. However, the mechanics are executed so beautifully it’s hard to resist once you start playing.

One Step From Eden manages to combine the strategic satisfaction of deckbuilding with the chaotic fever pitch of an action game and wraps it into a snug package of player choice. It might feature all the randomness that the genre is known for, but it puts the ball squarely in the player’s court about what to do with it, and that’s pretty magical.

My Perspective On One Step From Eden

When it comes to games like One Step From Eden, I generally prefer them to be turn-based. I enjoy action games, but I usually like to keep my pizza and ice cream separate, so to speak. In spite of that, One Step From Eden managed to get its hooks into me, and I ended up falling for it pretty hard.

I always value a challenge, and One Step From Eden has that in spades, when combined with its variety of strategies and combos, it kept me coming back for more over and over again.

I’d never want all deck-builders to follow One Step From Edens’s real-time nature, but I also can’t imagine One Step From Eden doing it any other way. It’s very good at what it does and is a perfect example of genre-blending done right. It was a nice way to spend time, as I recovered from Covid, and I can easily recommend it overall.

You might also enjoy my review of Ratropolis.

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Pros

  • Great Spell Slinging Theme and Visuals
  • Variety of characters with different playstyles
  • A massive array of strategies and deck building combos
  • An excellent meld of real-time action and card play
  • Very High Replay Value
  • Victory is dictated through player choice and skill rather than a lucky run

Cons

  • The Co-op and PvP feel tacked on

Who Would Like One Step From Eden?

  • If you enjoy games such as Hades, Ratropolis, and Crown Trick
  • You enjoy difficult challenges
  • You are good at multitasking
  • If You enjoy games with lots of different potential strategies
  • Randomness is something you enjoy

Who Wouldn’t Like One Step From Eden?

  • You generally like taking your time in deck builders
  • You dislike the idea of starting over when you lose
  • If you get overwhelmed by too many on screen elements
  • You generally play games on easy