7 Grand Steps, Step 1: What Ancients Begat (PC) Review

By Athanasios 25.01.2019

Review for 7 Grand Steps, Step 1: What Ancients Begat on PC

There used to be a time back in the early '90s, where indie creations where usually products which were a few steps above college student projects. In other words, apart from a handful of shining exceptions, even the best amongst them could in no way compete with the independent creations of today, which many times rival triple-A developers. Mousechief's 7 Grand Steps, or, for those not suffering from OCD, 7 Grand Steps, Step 1: What Ancients Begat, while released in the not so distant 2013, sadly feels more like those freeware pieces that belong in the early days of Windows 98 - and, no, that doesn't have anything to do with the production values of this, otherwise, interesting blend of strategy and board games.

7 Grand Steps is... somewhat hard to describe. Usually, one can simply point at something similar to make things easier for the reader, but there probably isn't something that's even remotely close to this. While definitely a turn-based strategy (of sorts), this feels more like it belongs in the world of board games, with the basic idea behind it being that two pawns, a man and her wife, must keep on moving along the steps of a stone ring, while being careful not to get eaten by the crocodiles residing at the left end of the ring.

Screenshot for 7 Grand Steps, Step 1: What Ancients Begat on PC

Instead of a simple dice roll, though, movement is done via tokens of various types; each type having a certain icon, corresponding to the icons scattered along the steps of the "board;" there's an ingot that enables creating more tokens at the expense of your moving forward; the couple can produce offspring that don't move on the board, but must "eat" tokens to increase their skills, and have a change of producing tokens themselves via the ingot; finally, after the parents die, you pick a child, and begin the circle (literally) anew. Does all this sound kind of complicated?

In all honesty, this isn't as convoluted as it may see at first... but a crucial aspect of any videogame (or any kind of software, for that matter), is how good it is at providing the necessary info - and this isn't very good. In fear of turning into a manual, this review won't really explain every single mechanic regarding all those things like tokens, ingot use, and so on and forth, just know that the first, tutorial-like hour playing 7 Grand Steps, will make things look harder than what they are in reality, due to how lacklustre the UI, guiding text, and overall design is.

Screenshot for 7 Grand Steps, Step 1: What Ancients Begat on PC

So... you've spend some time avoiding the crocs, but what is the purpose here? It turns out that pawns can also collect certain 'Legend' points that help the couple gain some advancements. Once again avoiding going into much detail, this is a system of "upgrading" your family in various ways, by enabling the use of more tokens, opening up additional lines in the board to move on, and so on. A nice comparison would be how many strategy games have the player researching certain technologies, or more appropriately, how you move to the next 'Age' in the Age of Empires series.

The problem with all these is that there's not much point in doing anything. Strategy games provide the means to overcome obstacles, and then leave it up to you to find out how to use those means. Here, however, no one will ever feel that he or she needs to actually think what to do and when. Everything, from creating tokens and avoiding the pesky reptiles that want to gobble you up, to gathering Legend points and upgrading your family's "skills," will be a piece of cake - and not a tasty one, as this is an excruciatingly tedious past time.

Screenshot for 7 Grand Steps, Step 1: What Ancients Begat on PC

The main flaw becomes evident in the actual act of playing, since this mostly about feeding your pawns with tokens, and watching them move along the rotating board. In other words, playing 7 Grand Steps feels exactly like throwing coins at a slot machine. In fact, using a slot machine is better, at least from an audio-visual point of view. This definitely captures the Chalcolithic vibe it's going for, but it lacks that extra spark, and, due to the fact that things never really seem to change, you'll have a hard time not falling asleep.

The final facet that should be mentioned, is the storytelling one. No, a great, deep and moving plot lies not in 7 Grand Steps. This has chosen the more "humble," choose-your-own-adventure route, trying to spice everything up with a little bit of text that supposedly adds some life to the protagonists. It doesn't. Create a bunch of sentences, throw them in a bowl, stir, then create a paragraph by picking random lines; the result will surely be more interesting that the player-crafted story, which simply ends up being lifeless, and very... skipable.

Screenshot for 7 Grand Steps, Step 1: What Ancients Begat on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 3 out of 10


There's a reason why TBS/board game 7 Grand Steps, Step 1: What Ancients Begat never got a 'Step 2' release, and that reason isn't the lack of a decent budget. Despite a few nice ideas here and there, this is mostly a mind-numbing, chore-ish affair; one that, at best feels like playing with a, somewhat more complex, slot machine.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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