Write your own history.
Million To One Hero isn’t a platformer with a level editor; it is a level editor. That is, the entire game is made up of player-created levels with a handful of Over The Top Games’ own creations once you move past the tutorial stage. That’s by no means a bad thing, and the narrative of this Grecian adventure accounts for the fantastic variety of gameplay experiences you will encounter as you traverse the memories of fabled God Aegis and live the life of fearless warrior Epicus.
However, it’s a risky move. While it’s certainly excellent to play, it might need a wider player base to see things really take off. Thankfully, this scenario looks likely, given that Million To One Hero is incredibly satisfying to dig your keyboard into, both in its platforming and its level creation studio.
We start our adventure with a slap of wry humour, as Aegis explains how he holds the ability to recall memories from all of time and space. From there, we’re introduced to Epicus, the hero of our story. We’re told that in the course of Million To One Hero, we will be dipping in and out of Epicus’s amazing feats of heroism and creating our own to upload to Aegis’s database.
We play a few tutorial levels, and it’s immediately obvious how sophisticated the simplistic design of each movement is. There are only four buttons to worry about here, aside from the usual D-pad navigation. Use A to jump, S to dash, D to swing your mighty sword, and E to use your secondary equipped weapon. It’s a refreshing approach to platforming that generates one of the most powerful creative tools in game design: mechanic limitation.
Rather than mashing your way through a level, or using that OP weapon you discovered right at the start to cheat your way through, Million To One Hero prides itself on the almost puzzle-solving nature of its design. The fact that this nature runs so deeply even into its level editor is a testament to the power of its simplicity, and the thoughtful approach to keeping options slim and possibilities endless.
We’ve already said that this is a game built around its level editor, so that level editor has to stand up. And it does, in most ways. Your first levels might get off to a rocky start, what with the pixelated graphical nature of the game making certain objects and enemies difficult to recognise and their functions even trickier to ascertain. But once you’ve played through the wealth of unique experiences on offer, the inspiration starts flowing and the depth of this tool becomes apparent. There are handy descriptions of each object in the toolbar along the top of your screen, but often knowing how to use the power you’ve been provided with comes from witnessing how others have wielded it.
Many of the levels currently published revolve around the hitting of levers to open up blocked entrances, allowing you to progress and solve each level piece by piece. It’s certainly an interesting mechanic, but it’s obvious that players are the most comfortable with using it primarily because it was featured heavily in the tutorial gameplay. Other levels that feature weapons, blocks, abilities, and enemies not featured in this tutorial are slowly beginning to crop up as players spend more time with the game, but a touch more direction on the use of the lovingly crafted features of this powerful tool would open up a world of gameplay we’re currently not yet seeing. It’s a tricky situation, but when you release a game that relies on community engagement to function, it’s necessary to show these players how to get the most out of your world.