WARNING: This review will contain major story spoilers, so if you haven’t played the game yet, I highly recommend that you do so. Or feel free to watch my Let’s Play-series, which stretches over 14 (+ 1 extra) episodes :3
I’ve mentioned again and again and again… or twice at least… that my first gaming review of DoubleDair.net will be of OneShot – and now I’m delivering (finally)! 😀
Oneshot was released on Steam the 9th of December, 2016, after being made for a RPG Maker contest back in 2014. I haven’t played the original version, but the new release on Steam should be a longer and more polished version, which sounds plausible 😛
The first time that I heard about the game was through PC Gamer’s “Five new Steam games you probably missed this week”. As soon as I read the short description, I got a small Undertale-vibe so I began to research the game a bit. Being a little bit frustrated about never actually playing Undertale, I quickly got more and more intrigued with OneShot with every screenshot, trailer and description that I saw and read of the game. It didn’t take long before I bought it, and began playing it – while recording it, of course 🙂
Why don’t we just jump straight into the thick of things? Without further ado, the game review of OneShot 😀
I am a sucker for pixel graphics, and I’m not quite sure why. It might be because me and my brother’s very first PC game was Double Trouble, a comical Point-and-Click Adventure from the 90’ies, not that it really matters though 😛
If done well, I’m just really impressed by it, because you have such a low resolution to work with (not that any other art style is necessarily easier or anything), and it can just be so freakin’ beautiful!
OneShot is done well, no doubt about it. It might not be the best pixel art that I’ve ever encountered (maybe because it was made in an RPG Maker), but it is still beautiful. The dark and gloomy use of colours I think the overall aesthetics of OneShot greatly contributes to the mysterious and depressing feel of a world that we don’t know much about, other than it is decaying rather rapidly. Walking around and lighting everything up with the sun, also gives the notion that maybe there’s hope, and that Niko, the main character, and the player is that hope.
Having the three main areas all tinted with the specific colour of their respective phosphor, the three different colours that actual phosphor can emit (very quick Wikipedia-glance on my part), brings a seemingly natural distinction between the areas, which in turn also give them a distinct feel. The Barrens (blue tint) is cold, abandoned and pretty much devoid of life, the Glen (green tint) looks like a swamp where only a few people choose to live, and the Refuge (red tint) is the most populated, industrial and civilised area, though the hue and saturation of the red colour gives a feel of not everything being as it should be.
Finally, when talking about aesthetics, I want to make a note of the dreams that we see Niko is having. While the world is made exclusively in pixel art, Niko’s dreams are drawn by hand and, what looks like, water colours. This sudden change of style had me a little confused at first, but I think that it perfectly illustrates that Niko is not of the world. We don’t even know how they got there, why they woke up in what turned out to be the Tower. I think that this change of style is quite brilliant 😀
Aesthetics of OneShot:
8 / 10
Let me get this out of the way, right from the beginning. The game mechanics of OneShot totally blew me away! In fact, the mechanics were so well done that they directly influenced the story and how I, as the player, felt about the main character. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen game mechanics being that much an integrated of something that normally doesn’t even involve any mechanics (the story) in the first place – I think it’s truly astonishing! 😀
The actual core mechanics are pretty simple: You walk around in 1 of 4 directions, pick stuff up, talk to people and solves puzzles by combining items, and using them here and there. It’s standard, especially for a RPG Maker game, but it’s solid and it works 🙂
Now to the actually interesting mechanic, the thing that shoots my assessment of this category through the roof! OneShot breaks the 4th wall, and it does so often. This in itself is not really that uncommon, though I always find it funny when it occurs. It’s the way that OneShot does it, which makes it so amazing 😀
OneShot breaks the 4th wall by having the player do stuff on their computer, outside of the game. Examples of this could be the password for a safe in the Barrens, which is written in a document created in the player’s ‘Documents’-folder, or the changing of the desktop background to a symbol which Niko must create through tiles on a floor. These types of “4th wall puzzles” are interesting and fun, though I can see why the game warns potential players before buying if they they are prone to paranoia xD
Then there’s some truly clever and amazing puzzles, like the the Tower Entrance, which is just a red room with nothing but a white ‘X’ inside. I solved this puzzle by accident, but the room is actually a “close the current window”-icon, which means that if you close the game down inside the room, Niko is inside the Tower the next time the player opens up the game!
I could go on and on about the different “outside the game”-puzzles, but I won’t bore you too much, and you might still want to play the game yourself, even at this point 😛 Instead, I’ll end this category saying that another great thing about OneShot and its game design, is that the puzzles never feels too difficult or frustrating. Even at the later stages of the game, I had gotten more and more used to the “outside the game”-mechanics that I went on the investigate the folders on my PC, instead of looking up a walkthrough. Most of the time, there were some clear clues, which could get progressively if I was too stupid to know what to do 😀
Oh, one more thing to note: Another way that OneShot utilises its out-of-game mechanics is for the story, which I will talk more about in the respective category 🙂
Game Design of OneShot:
10 / 10
Ah yes, the ‘Soundscape’-category. Pardon me for being an idiot when it comes to music, I’ll do my to put my thoughts and reasons into the score (as if I wasn’t doing that anyway, lol), and I’m therefore listening to it right now, as I’m writing this 🙂
I think that the soundscape of OneShot is quite good. Together with the aesthetics, it manages to create a mysterious, and ominous feeling throughout the game that something is seriously wrong in the game’s world. Most of the soundtrack is actually quite sad :c
These ominous feelings are especially brought “to life” by tracks such as A God’s Machine and My Burden Is Light. Those are some of the tracks, together with On Little Cat Feet, that when I hear them, I instantly think of OneShot.
The game also features some really beautiful tracks. Distant, Niko and The World Machine, and Children of the Ruins are all very well done, and conveys feelings of hope in an otherwise sad world :’)
As nice as the soundscape of OneShot is, I’m not compelled to actually add any of the tracks to my everyday-playlist, which is why I’m giving ending with a 8 out of 10 🙂
Soundscape of OneShot:
8 / 10
Like the core mechanics, I think that the story of OneShot is actually quite standard. Hero wakes up in an unknown world and needs to save it from decay, and just as with the core mechanics, it just works 🙂 Maybe a bit more than “just works”, actually, given the premise of Niko carrying the freakin’ SUN of this unknown world! I found this “lightbulb is a sun”-idea very interesting, and during my playthrough, I had some “OH SH*T! What about the Sun?!?” moments 😛
However, OneShot excels in one particular in one particular story aspect: the player IS NOT the main character! This is made clear almost from the beginning by breaking the 4th wall where the in-game computer talks directly to the player, using their Steam username, while Niko is also reading it D: Also, the fact that Niko communicates with the player throughout the game is seriously awesome, and it’s some funny little conversations from time to time :3
What this use of “outside the game”-mechanics does story wise is that I, as a player, have never had the same set of emotions towards the main character! I WANTED Niko to succeed and get home to her Mama, I was being EXTRA careful and thinking twice before I did things that looked dangerous, just because I didn’t want her to die once (also, the game told me that I only had one shot). I was pretty riled up when Niko went to sleep inside the Tower, and the game just closed every time I re-opened it! I don’t think I have ever been like that when playing a video game, and it was amazing to experience 🙂
However, because the game does so well at creating bonds with Niko, it is sort of lacking when creating ties to the game world (it’s not really a major issue, but worth noting). Comparing OneShot to Undertale, I never thought that the other characters of the OneShot-world had all that much depth, which made Niko more special (however, Undertale completely lacks any form of depth main character-wise). I think that this issue trivialises the final decision just a little bit, but as I mentioned, it’s really not as prominent as it probably sounds reading this 😛
Story of OneShot:
9 / 10
Well, here we are at the bottom of the very first review of DoubleDair.net, and the final judgement of OneShot 🙂 As mentioned introduction to my game review-post (see the PSA at the bottom of the page), the ‘Final Score’ is found using the average of the scores from the four different categories.
Summarising the categories, OneShot is a game with wonderful aesthetics, and a good soundtrack which together creates a great atmosphere, and an ever present feeling that something is seriously wrong in the world that Niko and the player traverses. OneShot excels in its use of story and game design, which are fantastically intertwined and creates a bond with the main character that I have never experienced before :3
It should be noted, that according to a comment on the finale of my OneShot Let’s Play-series, an update to the game is coming March 2017, where I then plan to revisit the game to see what’s different – and I hope you will join me! 🙂
All in all, OneShot was my game of choice of 2016, even one of my all-time favourites, and YOU should definitely check it out (You can get OneShot on Steam here)! 😀
Final Score of OneShot:
8.75 / 10
PSA: Read my blog post “Introducing DoubleDair.net’s Game Reviews!” for information one the structure of my game reviews.