I Accidentally Killed the Hero: A Oneshot Review (Plus: Tess!)

[notification type=”alert-warning” close=”true” ]Banner: Album cover for the Oneshot OST, drawn by Nightmargin.[/notification]

If you’re a net-savvy gamer scouring the indie tags for the latest RPGMaker gem, look no further than these two Indie Game Maker Contest entries released this year which you probably already know about, “Oneshot” and “Tess!”

ONESHOT, 2014

Genre: Adventure Engine: Ren’Py Developers: mathew, Nightmargin

Oneshot,” not to be confused with “One Chance,” a thriller flash game based on a similar technological premise, is a side project by “Dream Vs. Dream’s” lead developer Mathew and tumblr darling slash artist slash Hyper Light Drifter fanatic Nightmargin which explores the question most developers dare only to ask in their programming wet dreams: what if a player’s actions had permanent consequences?

Thus they created this Wii Fit mod which demonstrates the long-term health ramifications of a sedentary lifestyle.

The result is the story of Niko, a cat boy… girl… cat… who wakes up in a dark room and is told he/she/cat is the savior of this new world and shortly tasked with carrying a light bulb to its center. “Oneshot” is a series of puzzles and fetchquests that occur in sets as Niko gets closer to the central tower.

niko1The catch is that you the player are also a character and that quitting the game at the wrong moment will doom this in-game world until you reset the game files forever. That said, “Oneshot” is not strictly a horror experience, as much as the steady moody ambience may suggest otherwise. Your journey is a personal and ambiguous endeavor, accented by prorammer Mathew’s clever sleight of hand in maniuplating RPGMaker. If you appreciate software like Irisu Syndrome, the Luna Games or Dreamy Rainbow series, Imscared.exe, or the one that deletes your files when you shoot them, then “Oneshot” would be a smart addition to your weird-ass collection, though you’re advised to play this game if you’re a freeware puzzle fan of any variety because games like “Oneshot” are rare, so you want to be there so you can brag about it twenty years from now to your friends and disinterested children.

That being said, the unique technical aspects of this game, along with Night’s characteristically charming art style, are its primary selling points. The puzzles themselves are nothing exceptional, and the coolness of any givenlocale has an inverse relationship to the amount of time it’s in the game. Also as is the unfortunate case with many short titles, the universe and its characters are only vaguely established and want for significant fine-tuning. The developers took pointers from “Yume Nikki” on character development, so we are left with a colorful cast of alienesque NPCs and a cartoon universe with logic and physics that are left unexplained and shouldn’t be. Niko the cat-cat is of unknown species and gender — his only known attributes are having a mother and a fondness for pancakes, and that’s only when it’s xir mom’s pancakes. Plus these are revealed during dream sequences, which could be manipulation on behalf of the indiscernible antagonist, meaning at best we know pretty much nothing about Niko and that the player is arguably the most well-defined character. Congratulations! You’ve done well.

Clues such as the civilization’s history, the game’s different species, the Niko prophecy, and the world’s technology have only been included inasmuch as they were necessary to solve basic puzzles. As soon as it is not immediately pertinent to logical gameplay, the story goes limp and we are left to determine for ourselves crucial facts of the plot and character relations that weren’t supplied by . What does this dark world have to do with the one Niko is originally from, or the player’s? What motivates the antagonist to throw this world into peril and then try to trick the player, and who is the mysterious person aiding us with codes and instructions throughout the game? What’s the origin of the deadly chaotic anti-matter, and is it really too late to return the sun to its tower? Though Word of God confirms neither is a correct decision, did either of the two endings serve in helping Niko obtain his goals, and more importantly, what terrible disease has befallen that ram spinning around and making barfing noises?

Pretty ironic we don’t know these answers, Niko, seeing as your lightbulb should illuminate them. please can i b an english major

Fortunately Tess handles its frugal offering of plot information with a bit more finesse, as its story is on a much smaller scale and this ambiguity complements the game’s dark minimalism. Let’s check it out!

TESS, 2014

Genre: Run & Gun Engine: Custom (Java) Developer: GIRakaCHEEZER

tess1

Sometimes it takes a great game to remind us the world is a scary place, and that we should all stay inside wearing opera masks with vaguely permanent expressions of despair and take a long nap and not eat birthday cake. Tess achieves exactly that, and also some other stuff.

“Tess” is a platforming shooter by GIRakaCHEEZER, a man of many hats who was also behind the Touhou-inspired “LoliLoli: Race to the Moonlight Party.” You play as one very downtrodden Tess, traveling the moonlit terrain armed only with some tiny bullets and your low self-esteem. Tess is invited out exploring by her cheerful friend Milly to leaven her mood after an unexplained tragic incident, and arrives at majestic Lookout Peak. The unspoken rule of these larvate locals is that for safety reasons, nobody ever jumps off Lookout Peak into the waiting abyss below. This is an unspoken rule in a number of communities, especially to those which also partake in such habits as not setting homeless people on fire and not eating glass. Then again, this is a dimension where children tote fully functional guns around on their way to a playdate so really I have no idea.

Needless to say Milly suggests jumping off the cliff and Tess quickly takes her up on this offer unless you go for the Bad Ending. Life-or-death shenanigans ensue.

I am not a seasoned run-and-gun player, so I can’t offer a comparative view of the gameplay aspects (though this person is, and complains about them) aside from the refreshing variety of maps and playing strategies, but I can say I had no trouble with this game. Tess’s difficulty sits in just the right spot. You’re given a fairly scanty health meter at the start of the game, as well as a bar that can be filled collecting the drops from enemies and hidden canteens that rewards you an additional heart whenever it’s full. There’s only one boss, but it’s suitable for the length of the game and a lot of fun.

If you’re looking for a fun and off-kilter way to spend a half hour, why not give Tess a shot? I mean this in the paronomastic sense, the figurative sense, and the structuralist one. Seriously, give Tess a shot, she needs one.

shot pls

Post Author: plaster

Winner of Miss Best Effort seven years and counting, Plasterbrain spends her days pretending to code, writing music, and third bullet point. Her top three first dates would be hunting for slugs, writing fanfiction about Hanzo, and a joint Powerpoint presentation. Oh wait wait wait! Can I add a fourth? The fourth is Neopets.

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