OneShot: A Beautiful Journey of Discovery and Guardianship
If there is one thing we should thank RPG Maker for, it’s the fact that some of the most meaningful, out-of-the-box games ever were made in it. Such simple concepts can be incredibly transformative to gaming, and that is the case with OneShot.
OneShot is a meta puzzle adventure game developed by Little Cat Feet LLC and published by Degica. Originally, it was a free RPG Maker game developed by Mathew and Nightmargin on the RPG Maker 2003 engine, and was released in 2014. The version currently available on Steam has been mostly updated with better graphics, extra scenes, and an overall smoother control scheme.
A small thing of note: there are changes from the free version to the Steam version, mostly through added scenes and moments that were not there before. While you can get the same experience in many ways from the original free release, the full release does provide you with more material to sink your teeth into as well as a chance to support the developer, which is a noble endeavor to be sure.
The player takes on the role of a god in the story, and they must watch over a young cat person named Niiko, who relies entirely on you for help. When you leave the game and then return later, Niiko asks where you went and comments that it was dark while you were gone. It takes great lengths to show you that you are essentially Niiko’s light and his guide through this new, mysterious world. You control him as well as the things he looks at and picks up. There will be some things he’ll disagree with doing, but he’ll still talk to you about doing it, and in doing so it develops a rapport between Niiko and yourself.
Each area has its own unique feel, with lots of variation in architecture, inhabitants, and what sort of discourse they happen to be going through when you get there. Niiko does help them out, but can only do so much while witnessing the misery of the denizens of this mysterious world.
The people of the world are colorful characters, yet muted due to the lack of light, which means the game takes a chance to show you the beautiful scenery in the dark atmosphere. It’s somber in a way, as if mournful. It's clear that the world is dying, and this is complimented by the music.
Niiko will often interact with you while you’re gently guiding them throughout the world and you may find yourself getting attached to the little creature as time goes on. Niiko is essentially a child and you have to take on a parental and guardian role in order to get them through this troublesome time.
You see, Niiko carries the Sun and he is the Messiah -- meant to bring the Sun back to this world. This means Niiko is treated more like a messianic figure than most video game protagonists, to the point where it actually starts to bother the little cat person.
Then there’s a mysterious entity who exists only on computers in-game. After accessing these, he talks directly to you – the player, rather than Niiko – giving you orders to do things like look through your computers files or look at your desktop in order to solve the game's puzzles. Most of these entail getting an item to a certain thing and then putting it in the right place -- relatively basic puzzle adventure stuff without any real sense of difficulty.
Wandering about aimlessly is a large focus in this game, because you’re like Niiko in the sense that you’ve never been to this world before ether and you’re looking at things with “fresh” eyes. There are some times where things aren’t completely straightforward, like having to get something from a bubble in order to clean a wash cloth. But part of this game’s appeal is in the fact that most of your puzzles have to do with how this world operates. There often are books that heavily imply some of the things you have to do -- but they, like most other things, are scattered across the world, which means it’ll take a bit of walking to get there.
Yet, OneShot seems to know this, and gives you a quick-travel mechanic that cuts back on your walking quite a bit -- which is good, because as cute as Niiko is, he walks (and even runs) slowly. Things can still get a little on the tedious side however, since you’ll be backtracking quite a bit.
While the environments are beautiful, after a while you may want to have a change of scenery. There is a lot of material throughout the game that makes the mysterious world a lot less mysterious. You’ll find libraries of books, pamphlets and other such things while you’re looking for certain items that you can read in order to get a better understanding of the world around you. If there’s a piece of the world seemingly missing, then there’s a chance it wasn’t revealed yet or that you may have missed it while trouncing through the world.
The game doesn’t feel obligated to tell you everything about its world – it wants you to fully experience it by exploring it by spending time with Niiko and his newly made friends. It’s not a game that wears its heart on its sleeve, but rather expects you to get past its cleverly placed walls and figure it out for yourself.
OneShot puts you in the role of a parent, carefully watching over Niiko and helping him explore this new, dangerous world. While at times the processes can be a little arduous, OneShot is worth exploring, just for the sake of going with Niiko on this journey.
Note: A copy of this was provided by for review.