One Person Story

January 28, 2020
Developer: Lampogolovii
Publisher: Drageus Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch

I did a little bit of searching and saw a lot of reviews absolutely showering One Person Story in praise. Simply put, I don't get it.

The Game

Let's start with the actual game. There is a little pink/purple ball that bounces back and forth up a narrow playing field. The objective of each level is typically to reach the top; there are about 100 levels, all playable seamlessly, which I figure is supposed to represent the uphill climb of life or something. Anyway, there are gates that are the same color as the ball that open and close based on whether or not you are pressing the single button this game requires. Although I phrase that negatively, I tend to enjoy one-button games, so that's not a hit against One Person Story.

Every few levels, a new mechanic is added; typically one that is done away with just as quickly as it appears. Again, I suppose this is meant to represent how things are fleeting in life—I don't know. The mechanics themselves, however, are somewhat interesting. They involve anything from spikes that destroy the ball (with no real punishment for losing), to a gate that requires you to lose five times to open (which thankfully only appears once), and extend as far as slowing down time when the button is held or leaving a decoy ball behind so a new, different-colored ball can temporarily pass through obstacles. However, pretty much every stage requires you to figure out exactly what the developer intended you to do, because the ball can only bounce in a finite number of directions and thus there are only a finite number of ways to get through a stage—most of which don't work out, especially in the later levels.

There is no real challenge in this game. I suppose if you were new to video games or just not very good at them, it would be challenging. There are a couple tricky parts, but that's about it, and as the system is so forgiving it's never really frustrating, which I guess is nice, but ultimately left me feeling unaccomplished. As for me, I'm pretty sure I pushed through the whole game in 30 minutes or less. I remember turning to look at my girlfriend and saying "Hey, remember that game I just bought? I just finished it." It took her a few minutes to believe me. Is there some extra content I missed? I don't know. But it cost a couple bucks and only gave me about a half hour of entertainment (and I use that term loosely).

The Story

Like a 13-year-old foreign hipster standing on a street corner soap box trying to teach grown adults the basic facets of life. I say "foreign" because while the narrator's voice is nice, there were a significant number of statements that were grammatically incorrect and thus lost most or all of their impact. I will mention that there was a series of stages that discussed how we should talk to people more, and for those the sound and music were all turned off, which was actually pretty jarring and cool. The silence of the environment around me became the audio of the game, which was interesting, and probably the only part of the game I will remember in a few days. After a small handful of very short levels that was over and it was back to other, less interesting mechanics.

I have to give them some credit, though. It looks like this game was mostly made by one or two people. As someone who used to be an aspiring game developer and who released a share of mediocre titles, I understand how difficult it is to fully develop and ship a product. The game is a cohesive whole, which is something that can't be said for even some larger-budget titles; it's just not a cohesive whole that felt particularly fulfilling. The game has solid mechanics that actually work and is bug-free as far as I can tell. It plays on your expectations well, too—but it's simply not memorable. If you're one of those people who plays games for the story and not the actual game, you might enjoy One Person Story. I suspect this is why so many critics gave it such high scores; because many of them, in my experience, don't seem to be particularly interested in being challenged or even completing a game. Statistically speaking according to platforms like Steam, the vast majority of all players—not just critics—never even reach the halfway point in a game, never mind complete it. I get the feeling its a score-booster that the game can be finished in about a half hour. Finally, there is not much "gameplay" here, and in this modern age the idea of what a "game" really is has been greatly confused.

Final Rating