The Generation Game: 7 Grand Steps Demo

It is said that games nominated in the IGF competition immediately become ghosts, haunting the memories of journalists and the creaky attics of Twitter, but without any true corporeal form. This year’s list is less spooky than most because many of the nominees are available right now and others are just around the corner. Enter 7 Grand Steps, the new game from Mousechief, of Dangerous High School Girls fame. The game received a nomination in the Nuovo category and, having spent a few December nights absorbed in it, I reckon it richly deserves its place. A demo is now available, so you can download that and then agree with me. It’s a game about family, legends and traversing history. Video below.

I didn’t immediately love 7 Grand Steps but I approached it with the stick of analysis in hand, poking and prodding, which is never the best way to begin a romance.

“What are these slot machine trappings and mechanical gamebox interfaces?” I demanded as it attempted to tell me a tale of family and fealty. There were characters, breeding, developing and learning, but I was more interested in where in my parlour of games this one should sit. Next to Dangerous High Schools In Trouble!, the Jazz era boardgame with the superbly sassy script? That seemed the obvious place but the comparisons were, eventually, damaging to 7 Grand Steps.

That’s not because it isn’t as well designed or intriguing as its predecessor, but the surface is the only real shared feature. Both are constructed so as to resemble games within the screen – one on a board, the other in a machine – but the innards are as different as chalky guts and cheesy entrails. While 7 Grand Steps does feature tokens and character building, the emphasis is on a dynamic, generational tale rather than the mystery-solving of High School Girls.

The mechanical interface is appropriate, the board and its pieces replaced with a clanking engine, the workings of which are driven by player input but obscured and, at first, obscure. Eventually, the ticker tape output begins to pile up and connections are made between tokens dropped into slots and the story unfolding through history. And when that happens, 7 Grand Steps is enticing and, befitting its status as a Nuovo nominee, almost entirely apart from the hundreds of games that have passed through my PC in the last twelve months.

I’m planning to spend some time with the latest build over the next couple of weeks. This is a very interesting and unusual object. The demo is available on PC and Mac. At the time of writing the PC version is a zipped folder at the moment rather than an executable installer, but I’m sure you can all handle that.


  1. acheron says:

    I still have no idea what this game is about after reading this description, but you had me at “Mousechief”. I loved Dangerous High School Girls. (phrasing!)

    Will go try the demo out tonight.

    • Terragot says:

      Oh, man, Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble is such a gem. Excellent character, top writing and so much charm! Will have to pick this up too.

    • cptgone says:

      another Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble fan here.
      glad to hear there’s a new game from Mousechief (what a lovely name that is, BTW). i like original games!

    • wu wei says:

      Me three! I have such a hard time selling Dangerous to friends, though. “It’s a lightweight RPG with minigames, a boardgame aesthetic and a strong narrative” doesn’t seem to grab people in the way it should :(

  2. Harlander says:

    Ooh, I remember being quite interested in this the last time you mentioned it

  3. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Only a week into 2013 and I’m already accruing a backlog. This will not end well.

    • Chris D says:

      I don’t know. I like to see it as storing up supplies to last through the long, cruel summer months when the pickings are scarce, like a squirrel from Australia….or something…possibly that dream about cows with differing body types. This may have got away from me now.

  4. lordcooper says:

    I don’t understand, but nevertheless desire this.

  5. BooleanBob says:

    Goddamn! I’ve been wanting to play DHSGIT since RPS pointed me at the demo approximately 3.4 forevers ago. So remembering upon reading this article, I dash over to steam to see if it’s still in the sale, only to find that the sale has been over since approximately 0.7 forevers ago. It’s back up to full price! Oh noes!

    But there’s a happy ending since I apparently own the game, which has been sitting unplayed (and indeed uninstalled) since I bought it in another steam sale approximately 1.9 forevers ago?!?!???!!

    So in other words you’ve made my day. Thanks, RPS. Tharpeyess.

    • wu wei says:

      I would laugh but this had happened to me too. More than once.

      • darkChozo says:

        I bought the THQ humble bundle not realizing that I somehow owned every game in it already <_<

  6. Berzee says:

    “At the time of writing the PC version is a zipped folder at the moment rather than an executable installer, but I’m sure you can all handle that.”

    I think I need Valve to make me a box for that. :(

  7. Keith Nemitz says:

    I wanted to apologize for the zipped game folder on Windows. I didn’t get my act together in time, and am still waiting for Mousechief’s code-signing certificate. When we get the cert, we’ll post a proper installer.

    Fun story. We started 7 Grand Steps before Windows 7 shipped. So a code cert wasn’t on our radar, until Windows 8. Then we piled excuse upon excuse to not have to deal with some new procedure just to get a game on a player’s computer.

    Hope you all enjoy the game. Yeah, it’s pretty different, but if you approach it as an adventure game from another dimension you’ll find the goal is the same, exploring a story, which is a lot harder to sell than ‘Kill the Sorcerer/Alien/Insect Queen/Zombie Horde’… Instead, you can watch ancestors die off, one after another. Gloriously or ignominiously, depends on how you play the game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      I’m too ill to be much use to anybody today but I’ve still managed to prop up a laptop in bed so I can carry on with the family story. My latest in a line of matriarchs has just been executed for stealing grain. Grim and yet horribly inevitable, given the large and hungry family she grew up in and the barren times in which she lived.

      I fear for the survival of the next generation.

    • Scandalon says:

      Do not apologize for reducing complexity.

      (I do welcome an option for a native installer/package on whichever platform I’m on, but “unzip -> run” is always a welcome alternative.)

  8. Chris D says:

    I just played this through to the end of the demo once. Then I did it again.

    To be fair I am a sucker for anything in the Almost a Boardgame But Not Really Genre (AABGBNR), but that’s still a pretty good sign. Looking forward to the full release. Definitely worth taking a look at if you haven’t already.

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  10. BlackestTea says:

    Soo… it’s like Crusader Kings II?

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