Million to One Hero Preview
Building for the Future
Published on February 26, 2019
Million to One Hero
Release Date: February 27th, 2019 (Early Access)
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
Developer: Over the Top Games
Publisher: Over the Top Games
Copy provided by publisher
Embark on a quest to become a hero etched into the fabric of history: this is the promise of Million to One Hero, a platforming game releasing into Steam Early Access on February 27th. Platforming isn't the only thing on offer though: the real strength of the game comes from the in-game level editor. Million to One Hero is a game that is as much about making levels as it is playing them.
Million to One Hero features a handful of levels created by the developers to showcase what is possible with their level editor. Some are focused around highlighting a number of different features to get your mind thinking about how to implement them into your creations, while others are tough as nails platforming challenges. Everything on display was created within the game's editor, so they serve as a great starting point for inspiring players as well as showing them potential limitations.
The unique hook of the game is that unlike other games that let you create levels, Million to One Hero lets you also make full campaigns. Over the Top Games have also included a few examples to exhibit the possibilities. I haven’t quite finished creating my first journey, but I’m really excited to see what kind of ideas people bring to the table during Early Access.
While the game's mechanics are explained in a short tutorial that relies on doing rather than telling, the editor's tutorial is a bit of a mixed bag. Upon opening it, there is a mountain of text to read through that will briefly go over what all can be done and then you're set loose. The overwhelming amount of options at the start means there is a lot to take in and experiment with. Your first several levels probably won't make full use of all of the tools at your disposal, but this allows you to discover at your own pace. However, the sheer volume of possibilities available may seem a little overwhelming when starting.
While the editor features several different tilesets for fleshing out platforming challenges and decorating the level, I found elements related to events to be the most interesting to use. Various objects like switches can be used as triggers that are tethered to events in the level. This can be as simple as using a switch to open a door, but in tandem with logical operators can allow for complex puzzles that require several steps to complete. There is enough flexibility in the system to allow for creative freedom that isn't strictly limited to a petite subset of options, though unlocking the potential of the system will require repeated experimentation.
Levels can also be broken up into two distinct rooms. By entering a doorway, the player character will be moved to a corresponding door on a secondary map. This can be used to break up levels into logical chunks, as well as allow for better use of horizontal and vertical space. One level I created was focused on descending slowly through hazards using a power-up that acts as a parachute. Because of the limited available vertical space, I used the secondary map as a way to reset the player's position to the top of the first map with a seamless transition. Tricks like this further enhance what the editor is capable of.
While I enjoyed my time creating and playing levels in Million to One Hero, I think there are a few minor and major problems the game faces in its upcoming Early Access period.
The game's visuals are also a little hard to keep track of. The player character isn't particularly big, so it can make following what's happening a little difficult.
The level editor also doesn’t play music while players are creating level. The game has a few different chiptunes all of which are catchy, but it’s dead silent while in the level editor. Given the amount of time that can, and likely will be spent in the level editor having a catchy tune playing in the background is a must.
Throughout my time with Million to One Hero, two major glaring flaws stood out to me. The first is that there is no easy way to manage your published levels. At the time of writing, the only way to see your levels after they've been published is to find them from within the level selection screen. There is no central repository that lets players comb over their creations, and manage them. Finding stats on your level, or seeing it's current visibility status is made much more difficult due to the lack of this feature. With such a heavy emphasis on player creation, it should be easier for players to manage the content they've created.
The other major flaw is the lack of searching functionality. Levels can be sorted by new, popularity, or specific level tags that anyone can assign after completing a level. However, there's no way to look up a specific creator, or levels by name. This feature is essential to a game like this. Imagine a scenario where one hundred players create a level on launch day. Then one of your Steam friends asks you to check out their level. You'll have to sort through up to thirteen pages of levels to find the one you're looking for.
Were there only minor gripes I'd see a lot more potential in Million to One Hero than I presently do. I think the level editor is really well put together, and with even more time spent fleshing it out over Early Access, it could become an incredibly powerful creation toolset. The volume of options available is somewhat overwhelming but allows players to learn at their own pace as they create increasingly complex levels to share. Most of the expected features are present, but the inability to easily manage and search for levels seem like huge voids. In its current state, Million to One Hero is tough to recommend. I really enjoyed playing the game and while it’s not without flaws the amount of potential shown going into Early Access is promising.