This IGF nominee explores the idea of family on an epic scale

7 Grand Steps is not your usual videogame. Inspired by old amusements in the Musee Mecanique, it’s an unusual blend of strategy and board gaming, with a wee bit of an educational bent, that takes place on a slowly rotating virtual game board representing the inexorable passage of time. Players begin the game as a lowly peasant struggling to survive in a harsh environment, but by making a family, learning skills and passing them on to succeeding generations, they can lead their descendants to a better life, perhaps even as a great king of the ages.

The name of the game is to collect beads in order to create family legends, which will help players meet “the inevitable Challenge of the Age.” But it’s not just a matter of achieving the goal and moving on, as each unique family member will (hopefully) live a long and full life, undertaking rites of passages, finding romance and raising families of their own, before passing on and making way for the next generation.

7 Grand Steps is attractively designed, although eye candy obviously isn’t the main attraction, and while the “board” may seem cramped and strange at first, like some bizarre, ancient Egyptian roulette wheel, it’s actually a very effective layout. Everything is highly abstracted and simple to play but it’s far more complex than it first appears, especially as new variables, like neighbors and new skills, enter the equation. It seems like the kind of game that will sneak up on you – it’s tempting to dismiss fairly quickly, yet very likely to ensnare you in its slow-paced strategy after just a few minutes of play.

7 Grand Steps

“These stories bond players to each family in the lineage,” the 7 Grand Steps website says. “Each generation is guided long enough for a player to know them. Every family tells a unique, engaging, interactive story.”

A 2013 Indie Games Festival finalist, 7 Grand Steps looks like it could be a truly fascinating game, and one that might actually live up to its promise of ” connecting people to the cultural roots of Western civilization.” It’s not due out until this spring but in the meantime, you can get a taste of what’s in store thanks to the beta demo available now at mousechief.com.