REVIEWS

OneShot

An Enchanting, Clever Adventure

OneShot
  • PublisherDegica
  • DeveloperLittle Cat Feet
  • Release DateDecember 8, 2016
  • Platform(s)PC
  • Release Price$9.99
  • Rating
    4/5

Elon Musk has posited that humans are merely the “biological boot loader for digital superintelligence.”  Robots wreaking apocalyptic death and destruction upon humanity is one of the more terrifying visions of speculative science fiction. But a desolate, gloomy landscape where even the robots have turned to rust is haunting in an existential sense. The opening setting, the Barrens, captures this mood magnificently and is but one example of the gripping world of OneShot.

Niko, a young cat-like humanoid, is thrust into an unfamiliar world that has lost its life force – the sun. She is tasked with returning the sun to its rightful place, thus allowing life to flourish once again. Along the way she must solve puzzles, locate hidden objects, and make challenging decisions about her future and that of the world she is supposed to save. OneShot is a 2D adventure game at its core, but it tactfully blends many different elements while retaining its own unique feel.

OneShot is a 2D adventure game at its core, but it tactfully blends many different elements while retaining its own unique feel.

Being an adventure game, much of OneShot involves exploring new realms, moving ever closer to restoring the world’s light. Each area has distinct aesthetics and characters. While the game does rely a bit heavily on exposition at times, much of the plot develops as Niko wanders through abandoned buildings, struggling villages, and toxic wastelands. Slowly, she pieces together the nature of this land where man, machine, and mysticism coexisted before the sun disappeared. Scattered notes strewn throughout provide fleeting glimpses of life from a variety of perspectives and minor yet elegant visual details paint an intricate picture of the world.

Despite the plethora of scraps from anonymous memoirs, many of the NPCs themselves have an unfortunate shortage of context and backstory. It’s generally clear what role the characters play, and some details are provided, but a richer narrative tying together the various individuals that Niko encounters would have created a deeper emotional connection to the story and characters.

Various items must be located, altered, combined, and transformed…the intriguing nature of OneShot’s landscapes makes traversing the environment pleasurable.

There are light elements of crafting that dovetail with the puzzle aspects of OneShot. Various items must be located, altered, combined, and transformed to fit specific needs. These scenarios range from an escape-the-room style challenge to wide-sweeping search and discovery. There are instances where certain items are in very obscure locations; this can be frustrating, but the intriguing nature of OneShot’s landscapes makes traversing the environment pleasurable.

Backtracking does become tedious at times. A fast-travel mechanic is introduced, which alleviates this to some degree, but in other instances the lack of a minimap is aggravating. A few specific cases involve retracing one’s steps down labyrinthine paths in search of specific items, which serves to frustrate more than enhance the experience; in other cases, entire areas must be re-solved. Fortunately, these are infrequent occurrences.

Where OneShot really shines is how it rejects the traditional game setting – landing somewhere between Undertale and Pony Island.

From a playability perspective, the game does support a full-screen mode, but it is essentially a more pixelated, scaled version of the recommended windowed mode. This is a bit disappointing, as the game loses some of its atmosphere with the desktop always visible (the well-suited music alleviates this significantly, however). Additionally, there were some minor bugs related to controller support where a few actions did require use of mouse and keyboard. But again, these were minor annoyances, rather than jarring faults.

There are some light spoilers in the next two paragraphs, skip ahead if you desire a completely spoiler-free review. Where OneShot really shines is how it rejects the traditional game setting – landing somewhere between Undertale and Pony Island. This is good company to be in, albeit a somewhat surprising combination. OneShot separates the player from the main character, and promotes the idea that the player is an entity unto itself, which Niko is both aware of and can interact with. At the same time, the player’s actions affect Niko’s experience, such as  inducing surreal dreams upon quitting and re-entering the game.

In a similar vein, the game interacts with the player’s computer in very interesting ways – some of which I did not realize were possible within the confines of a game. This is especially relevant to specific puzzles, and while there are ample hints for those who become confused, this dynamic provides a clever, engaging experience of searching for clues both inside and outside the game itself (which may explain the recommendation against full-screen mode).

OneShot is a great game overall. It’s a lovely, surprisingly captivating experience that does more than enough to overcome its shortcomings.

OneShot is a great game overall. It’s a lovely, surprisingly captivating experience that does more than enough to overcome its shortcomings. While not as revolutionary as the aforementioned Undertale or Pony Island, it borrows concepts from these games well, and molds them into an experience that is often more satisfying on the whole.

Notable Replies

  1. Definitely seems like a neat little game. Looks like it flew completely under most people's radar.

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