One Step From Eden
If You Want A New Mega Man, Develop It Yourself
The history of One Step From Eden transcends beyond the development of the game itself over twenty years ago back in 2001 with the release of a Mega Man spinoff known as Mega Man Battle Network. Released as an exclusive to the GBA platform, the Battle Network series brought MegaMan to the modern-day 21st century. Instead of a robot who fought other rogue robots and an evil mastermind behind everything, MegaMan was a virus-fighting AI who used programs to fight. Rather than jump, shoot, and climb to the end of the level, Battle Network was an RPG where positioning and deck building was key to survival. Winning battles would net the player with more cards, offering a surprisingly in-depth and personalized experience.
Its success gave birth to an anime, merch, and several sequels based on the MegaMan EXE story, making Battle Network the definitive Mega Man game for players who wanted something different and unique. The final game in the series, Battle Network 6, was released in 2005, ending a four-year series that resonated with fans. One fan-turned-developer, Thomas Moon Kang, decided to take matters into his own hands. Considering Capcom's less-than-stellar treatment of the Blue Bomber, much less its spin-off, a new Battle Network would have to come from a fan rather than Capcom themselves. With such a tall order ahead, can One Step From Eden accomplish what Capcom couldn't?
One Step From Eden Is No Frills; Just Straight Action
While there is a story for One Step From Eden, it is not at all a requirement to enjoy the game from the beginning. This decision is probably for the best as the stories for the Mega Man Battle Network series were never the games' strongest points. After selecting the only available character in the beginning, Saffron, the player begins their quest to find Eden. Each map is a randomly generated seed, starting the player off with a default deck depending on the character chosen.
Saffron is the EXE of Eden, being a jack-of-all-trades with attack cards meant to adapt to any situation. Her most useful passive, Second Soul, revives her with half HP once per run, making her an incredible beginner-friendly character. Upon starting a new game, players will have access to two attack cards at any given time, ranging from traps, physical attacks, ranged attacks, and support. Players can also auto-attack much like MegaMan EXE's default buster shot in Battle Network. Players who have played the GBA Mega Man games will feel right at home, with the gameplay being as identical to the older titles as possible.
In A Dog Eat Dog World, Compassion Goes A Long Way
There are multiple paths to choose from, each beginning a battle with a certain gimmick. Players will occasionally come across NPCs who require assistance. Saving them will net the player with bonuses while accidentally killing them will, of course, net them with nothing but nagging guilt. Well, less on the "nagging guilt" and more like the realization of the game letting you kill others intentionally and unintentionally.
Eden gives players free reign to decide how to come across each predicament, from deciding not to save survivors to the boss battles themselves. At the end of each map lies a boss battle on the same level as the Nav Battles from Battle Network. The player will fight unique characters that each have a specific personality and fighting style. One character, Gunner, uses turrets and mechs to defend herself while another, Selicy, will use her ice powers to overwhelm the player. Should the player lose, they will be left with 1 HP only to be executed in a merciless fashion by the boss.
Conversely, should the player defeat the boss, they will be left at the mercy of the player themselves. While the first instinct is to execute the bosses, the player can instead decide to spare them. Impressed by this kindness, the defeated boss will leave the player with beneficial items and let them pass.
Occasionally, the former bosses will come to the player's aid, appearing on the map to destroy their opponents as well as providing backup. While these spawns are random, it's nice to know that the player's pacifism helps their run as they progress. Of course, executing them will grant the player with way more spoils and experience than simply letting them live, but, turn the other cheek right? Sometimes, you gotta offer a hand in this dog-eat-dog world. Just don't attack the shopkeeper. You'll regret it.
Each Defeat Means A Chance At Redemption
Eventually, the player will succumb to defeat, but a Game Over doesn't mean the end. Depending on how well the player did, bonus characters can be unlocked based on the bosses the players have fought. Each character has its own unique motif that provides a deeper synergy than others. While Saffron is a jack-of-all-trades, Gunner, true to his name, is overly offensive. That plus the random nature in which cards are acquired means that no two playthroughs are the same.
Overall, One Step From Eden is a timesink that starts off as a love letter to Mega Man Battle Network and turns into roguelike poetry that gives players hours of gameplay from its simple premise. The fact that this originated from the mind of a single developer is impressive, a fact that's easy to overlook from the game's presentation. I wouldn't be surprised if Thomas Moon Kang finds others to share his vision and has an entire team to work on a sequel to this game. Regardless of what may happen with Eden, I believe this will not be the last time we'll see this potential IP flourish.
One Step From Eden is available on the PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.