Imagine going on a quest to infiltrate a tower, facing tons of adversaries, and getting treasure along the way, then at the very top, you face insurmountable odds to finally succeed. Sounds like a challenge, right? Now imagine trying to accomplish all of that in only 100 moves.
That’s entirely the premise of this insanely-challenging, dungeon, or should I say “Tower”, crawler roguelite 100 Steps by developer Endorth Studio, but with all its minimalistic simplicity lies deep, and engaging mechanics that will require a ton of brainpower.
One step at a time
It is no surprise that strategy is the main focus of this game, particularly step management, and that’s not an exaggeration. All of your actions, whether you’re attacking, healing, going through a door, or even retrieving items, counts as a step, so you must be carefully plan all your moves in order to achieve optimal results.
Naturally, if you run out of steps, your run is over. Think of it like you’re playing Candy Crush, which, I don’t think needs an explanation. Keep in mind though that running out of steps is just one of the two defeat conditions in this game: the other is if your run out of hit points. I mean, you still have to deal with monsters who are out to get you.
Add the other intangibles to the mix like treasures, shops, and blacksmiths, you have yourself a simple, yet complex game that should keep you busy for a while.
Speaking of treasures, you’ll receive all kinds of them on your journey, and their use varies. You can receive weapons like a wooden sword or a bow which you may need later on as they have limited uses so it’s not a bad idea to reserve one or two. Speaking of reserving, three is the maximum number of items you can have in your inventory at a time, and by items, I mean both weapons and potions, so which items you keep also counts as strategy.
You also can get artifacts which improve your stats for that particular run. The good news is that equipping them does not count on your inventory count as you have your own artifact slots where you can equip up to four artifacts.
You can also get coins which you can use to buy items or upgrade the ones you have when you meet a Vendor or a Forger, respectively, in your run, so all in all, spending some steps to get these treasures is not a bad trade for the most part.
The only gripe about the treasure system in general is that the item explanations are really short, if not non-existent. In fact, despite the game having an entire section, the game offers little to no explanation as to what each stat does. Sure, hovering your mouse over the item’s stats bonus lets you know which stat you’re getting a bonus of, but the game doesn’t really explain to you what those stats actually do, which, for me, is a poor decision especially considering the fact that the game relies heavily on strategy, and decisions like which item to take is paramount.
The music choice fits the game, in my opinion. You have this relaxing piano on the main screen, and a mysterious tune during your runs which fits well. That being said, the sound effects, both before and during your runs, leave a lot to be desired. My guess is that it’s the the devs’ attempt at minimalism, but for me, it kind of cheapens my immersion with the game presentation-wise.
The game can also be unforgiving when it comes to unforced mistakes you make. As an example, you have different hotkeys for inspection, moving, attacking, etc then use your mouse left click to perform the action. It is entirely possible for you to “move” on the same space you’re in, “attack” the treasure you wanted to get, etc. simply because you forgot to press the hotkey you need, and it also costs one step!
Hopefully, the game will prevent you from performing such actions in the future because the game is hard enough as it is, and I think these silly mistakes should not make turn the difficulty up a notch further.
I see what the devs wanted to do with the game, with its minimalistic but extremely strategic approach, and I think they almost got that formula right. There are just some kinks that need to be worked on.
I know the game should be difficult, but that doesn’t mean that players should learn all aspects of the game for themselves. Things like detailed explanation on stats and other mechanics would help a lot so players would figure out what strategy they need to implement. The presentation also needs a bit of an upgrade for a more appealing approach.
Get to steppin’
+ Simple mechanics but very strategic
+ Nice music
+ Great meta-progression
– Needs tooltips
– Presentation could use a little more polish
– Game could be unforgiving