I'm lost by the positive reviews for this game. I didn't find it successful at any of the core aspects that make a good adventure game, and I wouldn't have recommended it even if it were free. This sounds really damning, but it's not meant to be. Nothing was bad, but nothing was good, and I am certain I will not remember a single thing about this game in 6 months.
The premise of theI'm lost by the positive reviews for this game. I didn't find it successful at any of the core aspects that make a good adventure game, and I wouldn't have recommended it even if it were free. This sounds really damning, but it's not meant to be. Nothing was bad, but nothing was good, and I am certain I will not remember a single thing about this game in 6 months.
The premise of the game is that you play a PC game player, who in-game is playing the game OneShot. Your interface is essentially the Windows desktop, with OneShot playing on a windowed screen within it. (Importantly, you can full-screen it.) There's not a ton going on in this meta-world, though, other than occasionally needing to step back into it for a puzzle to unblock the OneShot game world. I found the meta setting pretty overhyped and underutilized. To be fair to the game, You are a Game Player / You are On a PC was a less common (but not unheard of) trope when OneShot first came out in 2014, but with the standard set by more recent games like Doki Doki, There is No Game, and Hypnospace Outlaw, I kept waiting for more from the meta-world. The puzzles you solve there are almost railroaded, and there isn't a lot of evolution or surprise.
Now over to the game-within-a-PC-window itself. OneShot is a top-down 8-bit-style adventure game. You play as Niko, a vaguely humanoid child who wakes up in a derelict house. Your first mission is to get Niko out of the house through some basic adventure puzzle-solving: find the items, put the items in the right slot. Niko then emerges into a post-apocalyptic world and begins a quest to bring the sun (a large lightbulb) to a central tower in order to put it back in the sky. This starts the core part of the game, where you move through a series of medium-sized areas, solve some fairly linear puzzles, and talk to the local inhabitants. The game is zero-combat, which is something my withered reflexes appreciated.
At this point, the lack of characterization in the world both undermines the aesthetic experience and the gameplay. Each discrete "level" has one primary color, and after moving through 4-5 screens, you will realize each screen looks a lot like the last. In an adventure game, this is particularly problematic. There are a few puzzles that are clever, but an equal amount that are difficult because "I swear I already went this way." You're largely wandering a same-y purple moonscape, until you're wandering a same-y green moonscape in the next level. I wouldn't mind wandering around lost if the act of wandering was pleasant, but it's mostly dull, which is not helped by the muted synth soundtrack. For me, it didn't convey much feeling. The one shining star (or sun, if you will) in the world-building was the dialogue, which is generally cute and funny. Each of the levels are populated by several NPCs that flesh out the world and its story. None of them have a ton of depth, but they're fun exchanges that help the monochrome world feel more alive. Niko also frequently talks to the player character. Your mileage may vary with Niko, but I didn't enjoy him as a character. He's expressly a child character. I think he's written very well as a child. But young children aren't always the most interesting or sympathetic, and Niko came across to me as whiny and drab; his only interests that I can recall are his mother, pancakes, and complaining about looking like a cat.
One of the selling points of OneShot appears to be its replayability. The game warns you multiple times you'll have to make irreversible and difficult decisions. This is massively overplayed - there are very few major choices. There was one part in which I refused to help an NPC because I thought it would be a major inflection in the story...and it was just something I needed to do. So, few game-changing decisions, but regardless, the game does change on a replay. I honestly found the game so forgettable on my first playthrough that I couldn't bring myself to do a second. One playthrough took me around 6-7 hours, by my reckoning. That could be a bit off, as I put the game down for a month in the middle of that.
I always try to figure out if there is any kind of player that should play a game, even if I didn't like it myself. It's a struggle with this one. I thought the target audience was exactly me - indie adventure players who like a dash of darkness in the story. But if you have experience with any similar games before, OneShot won't measure up, even compared with other simple games like Miwashiba games. I suppose what I'll leave you with as a recommendation is that this would be a decent game for pre-teens who are getting into this kind of game for the first time. Still, there are better.… Expand