A lot of the newer games I play are due to YouTubers I watch playing them and I find them interesting enough to play for myself. Even if it’s a totally story driven game and I watch the entirety of it and get the whole thing spoiled for me before I get to play it, if the story is just that good, I still want to play it and experience it for myself.
This was the case with the game OneShot. It’s a relatively short little adventure game that likes to break the fourth wall; in fact, the entire story hinges on breaking the fourth wall. And that’s what I found so great about it.
This game starts by the main character waking up in an unfamiliar dark room. There’s a computer terminal next to the bed you wake up in and, after solving a little puzzle to find the password to get into the computer, there are messages being displayed – not for the character you’re playing as, whose name is Niko, but for you, the player. You are addressed by name (the name of the user account currently logged in). You’re told that your mission is to help guide Niko through this world and help them to get home. So that’s what you do. Time for puzzles.
Eventually Niko picks up a lightbulb which lights up when they touch it. They get out of the weird old house and enter into a barren landscape that seems to be inhabited by robots. You meet one robot referred to as Prophetbot and it says that Niko is the messiah of their world and that the lightbulb is the world’s new sun. It must be taken to a great tower to restore the world. Niko also finds out that [player] is this world’s god, and that’s when you two start communicating.
At first glance, this game seems cute and charming, but there’s this deep sense of sadness and hopelessness throughout the world as you and Niko explore it. There are some people in this world who have hope that Niko will be able to restore the world, but there are others who think there’s no point and they would just rather the world die away quietly. It starts making you question if the journey is really worth it.
On top of trying to get to the tower to restore the sun, Niko just wants to go back home to their own world, as it seems they were taken from their world to be the savior of this world. They just want to go home to their mom and eat pancakes and run through wheat fields and feel the sun again. You see, Niko is still just a kid, forced into this by some unknown entity.
Along the way to the tower, Niko meets a bunch of different people – robots and other creatures alike – and they all seem to be having their own problems. Many of them still have hope, though. Even though you don’t get to spend that much time with any of the other characters in this world, they all feel very well developed and it’s obvious they have their own stories even if we don’t get to see them, and I like that sort of development, but in this story it means something on a deeper narrative level.
Now, I don’t want to spoil the game, because experiencing everything for yourself is worth the wait, but the ending was powerful and it had me in tears. And then I started a new game plus and everything changed. I realized in playing the game the first time around, there were a lot of little things that left me wondering and wanting more out of it, but I had forgotten about it as I continued onward. The new game plus addresses these things and you get the entirety of the story. And I have to say, this is one of my favorite meta/fourth wall breaking games ever, because it utilizes the concept so well and weaves it into the narrative so perfectly, it’s amazing.
In some small way, this game reminds me of Undertale, and maybe it is just with that meta nature of it. While the fourth wall breaks in Undertale were more minor, and it was never addressing you personally, it did still do some things similar to this game, but this game just took it to the next level. Like adding files to your documents folder on your desktop to get you to move forward in the game, or changing your desktop background to give you hints as to what to do next.
OneShot attracted me for it’s beautiful art style and wonderful soundtrack, and for the cute yet somber atmosphere the game builds. It’s a simple enough game, similar to that of RPGMaker games I’ve played in the past, but doing the fourth wall breaks just gave the game a whole new exciting element. And the story is beautiful and sad and makes you think.
All in all, I loved this game, and if you like story driven games, this is one you should definitely check out.