by Emily Reuben
OneShot started out as a free RPG Maker title made in 2003. As the original version was expanded on for the 2014 Indie Game Maker competition, new content was added with character designs, story and graphics all receiving a substantial update. The extended, final edition has just released on Steam for $9.99. If you want the full impact of this gem, stop reading now and buy it. The less you know about it, the better. All you need to know is that this game will delight you with its inventive mechanics, lovable characters and immersive soundtrack. If you have 3-4 hours you can devote to a genuinely touching gaming experience, do yourself a favor and add OneShot to your Steam library.
It’s daylight saving time
…as the title implies, you only have one shot…
Niko, a child with cat-like qualities wakes to find himself in a decaying world that is not his own. After finding a large lightbulb that glows when he holds it, he is quickly recognized by the denizens of the land as their long-awaited messiah. Almost immediately, Niko is tasked with saving the world by delivering the light bulb, termed by the people as “the Sun”, to a distant tower to restore light to a world that lives in chaos, disarray and darkness.
The player’s role in OneShot is a bit different from the traditional RPG. While the player controls the protagonist, the player and Niko are two separate entities in the game world. The player functions instead as a spiritual guide, recognized as a god by the inhabitants of the dying world, responsible for helping Niko save the world and find a way back home. Careful what you do though; as the title implies, you only have one shot, and the choices you make have consequences that affect not only Niko, but the whole world.
Puzzle me this
The gameplay revolves around solving puzzles to advance through the three environments that encompass the game world. Mechanically similar to other adventure titles like the indie horror game Fran Bow, the player must utilize various items found throughout the world to solve puzzles of varying difficulty. Often times, the player is given little direction concerning which items are necessary for the task at hand or which items must be combined, which can lead to a bit of aimless wandering in order to mull over the possibilities. However, this is by no means a difficult game. While some of the puzzles may cause temporary confusion, all have clues hidden within dialogue, text or images.
The draw for this particular game is not the difficulty of the puzzles, but rather the unconventional means of finding the solution. Because OneShot does not limit itself to genre conventions, it delivers gameplay unlike almost any other RPG title on the market today.
A few scant blemishes
OneShot feels like it suffers from wasted potential.
On the whole, this game is incredible, but there are a few minor issues that break the immersion. The biggest issue is the lag that is experienced throughout the busier areas in the game. In areas where a lot of NPCs are moving or where particle effects are heavy, Niko’s movement slows to a crawl with the walking animation stuttering. This only occurred in two of the games many areas, so this did not greatly hinder progression; it just served as a temporary annoyance. For a game that has such simple graphics that use very little processing power, this should not be an issue.
Another minor annoyance was the reliance on backtracking. Necessary items are scattered throughout the three areas Niko must traverse through. These areas are universally small in scope, yet that only goes so far to remedy the problem of traveling familiar trails to open a box or to deliver an item. At times, it seems that backtracking was used to pad out the already short playtime of the game.
The game does such a good job of making you care about Niko, that the end of the game feels like it comes too soon. This is not an issue of pacing, but instead one of wanting more. I suppose that the best games really do end leaving the player wanting extra content, so in that respect, OneShot is one of the best. However, I found that the short playtime left me feeling that I hadn’t had enough time to really bond with the colorful characters and environments. Arguably, OneShot’s greatest strength is the interaction between characters, but Niko is the only character that the player gets to spend time with. Without other prolonged, meaningful interactions, OneShot feels like it suffers from wasted potential.
Gamers who enjoyed the emotional impact and gripping narrative of Undertale are sure to love OneShot as well. With unique character design, mechanics and plenty of fourth wall breaking, OneShot demonstrates that even a short game can be as impactful as any big budget release. For those looking for a short experience devoid of combat or tired genre tropes, OneShot offers a delightful adventure with plenty of engaging puzzles along the way.