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Does it deserve the Misaos?

I've heard about this game quite some time ago but I didn't get around to play it until I heard that Oneshot managed to get into the top three of any Misao category except for the “Most Promising Demo Entries”. And after watching the first few minutes of game play on YouTube I knew that I had to try this game myself. And I did. I just finished playing this game and now I’m sitting here and writing this review.

First of: The Plot
The game starts as you see “Niko”, the main character of the game, waking up in an apartment. As soon as you get out of the apartment you find out that you, the player, are a “God” controlling Niko and that Niko is a messiah that has to save this world. Doesn't that sound similar? Does anyone still remember the game OFF? That’s actually not the only similarity to the game but we will get to that later.
One thing that makes Niko such a believable character is that he seems to react like most would if they would find themselves in a strange world. He gets homesick. You actually feel sorry for him and want to get him home. The rest of the characters don’t really stand out to me because of their personality though but because of their unique design. You also part from them just as quick as you meet them. I don’t think I would remember any of them if they wouldn't look as weird as they do. The world didn't feel that memorable too actually but the atmosphere was just great. The different “Zones” differ in the usage of different colors (another similarity to OFF) which makes them feel different from each other. The zone I liked most was actually the second one because of the fireflies.

-Minor Spoiler Warning-
The end of the game was actually pretty similar to the one in OFF as well because you had to make this one last decision just like in OFF. And it was actually quite hard to choose.
-Spoilers End Here-

I actually managed to play both endings by the way. I know that it’s actually against the will of the maker that the player is able to see any other endings by himself but I was just too curious. I won’t tell you how I managed to start the game again though. You’ll have to live with your choices.

Summary: While the story itself isn't as amazing as the one from typical RPGs this game still sucks you into it’s world by making you relate to Niko and presenting you an atmospheric world.

Secondly: The Gameplay
This was actually the aspect which stood out most to me. The puzzles are really well done and of course the breaking of the 4th wall by actually affecting your computer and messing with it is one of the aspects of the game which makes it such a great game in my opinion. I had to deactivate the virus blocker to actually play it but it was definitely worth it. Oneshot isn't the only game I know which used this kind of technique. Another one is “Irisu Syndrome” and this game managed to pull it off just as good as Oneshot.
Another thing I want to write about is the actual “Oneshot-mechanic”. You can’t leave the game without saving or you won’t be able to finish the game. You also have only one save file and after you finish the game you can’t start a new one. Even if you re download the game. I actually don’t know of any games which force the player to actually think that hard about their choices because there’s no way of redoing them. Maybe you've heard the overused phrase “Live isn't a game. You can’t just push reset and start everything over again”. Well, in this case this game is pretty close to reality. You will have to live with your choices. There’s no way back.

Summary: The puzzles are challenging (in a good way) and the unique mechanics of this game makes it stand out from the rest.

Third: Graphics
I liked the art in this game a lot. It’s not only that the tiles, sprites and parallax backgrounds look great but there are actual pictures in this game and they are really well drawn. The mapping is quite good as well. Unfortunately there isn't much more I can say about the graphics. But since I’m a musician I’ll be able to say even more concerning the music.

Summary: The graphics are quite well done and the pictures are an extra plus.

Fourth: Sound
Music is for me one of the greatest factors in deciding if a game was worth playing or not. That said I have to admit that the music in this game didn't appeal to me as much as the music from many other games. The pieces oftentimes didn't have a melody and were just ambient which made them not that memorable to me. It’s not a bad thing if the music doesn't have a melody though. Yume Nikki for example is my favorite game although the pieces are all less than ten seconds long and have no melody most of the time. They are still great because they give every dream world it’s own character and create a great atmosphere. And in this case the composers actually managed to enhance the atmosphere of this game greatly. The similar usage of instruments throughout the soundtrack made it quite coherent and the game maintained a similar kind of feeling because of that. I especially liked how the composers played with contrasts. In “My Burden Is Dead” for example they cut between different parts and instruments which gives the piece a kind of creepy feel. They did the same in the piece “Pretty” by switching the different background noises on and off. I’m also amazed about the usage of the drums but that’s probably because I suck at composing drums patterns. ^^
I certainly won’t remember those pieces because of the melody but because of the iconic instruments and atmosphere of those pieces.
I used the plural of composer here because it seems like both Mathew Velasquezand NightMargin made the music for this game. I'm not sure who made which piece or if they actually worked on the same pieces together but they still did a great job.

Summary: Not that memorable because of the lack of a melody but the music enhances the atmosphere a lot and the pieces were quite interesting because of how the composer played with contrasts.

All in all:
I have to say that this game certainly deserves the many entries in the 2014 Misao. The different elements of this game create a good atmosphere and it’s uniqueness makes it stand out from the rest. If you are a fan of atmospheric and/or unique games then you should definitely give this one a try!

I’m not a native English speaker so forgive me if I made any grammatical or spelling mistakes. ;_;