Title: One Person Story
Publisher: Drageus Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3+
Release Date: 08/11/2019
Price: £2.69 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
We’ve been lucky enough to be provided with indie puzzler One Person Story twice. For this reason, we (2DMike and Chloe) decided to team up and share our thoughts on the Switch port of the 2018 PC brain teaser.
The premise? Your ball is continuously moving through a small corridor, gently bouncing between walls, and through the use of a single button – the only input in the game – the player must manipulate various objects within the single-screen levels, in order to get the ball from one end to the other. In the beginning phases, this largely involves holding the button to set a wall in a pre-defined space, allowing the ball to change the trajectory with additional mechanics slowly added through progression. It’s as simple as it sounds. The presentation of this melancholic curiosity, however, hints at more.
Mike: “One Person Story is a bit of an oddity in some ways. This minimalist style of puzzler is no stranger to any console, PC or mobile storefront in recent years, but the game immediately made it clear, if it wasn’t apparent from the name, that it wanted to tell a story. Chloe, what was the first element of the game to grab your attention?”
Chloe: “Definitely the minimalist design, with the puzzle central to the screen surrounded by darkness. You aren’t ever overloaded with too many obstacles in any level, and there is a limited colour palette. There are then the short phrases read by a soft female voice and the small illustrations to aid the storytelling. All of these elements are simple, but together they’re really effective.”
Mike: “Completely agree and I think the game really benefits in accessibility with this approach. Accessibility comes in many forms but with a single button control scheme and a price that’s lower than a frappuccino, this one’s for almost anyone. I found solving puzzles to involve a simple combination of timing and trajectory estimation, and, in fairness, the odd fluke, but it flowed together neatly and was always satisfying… until I reached Level 49. Please, please, please tell me I’m not just crazy and that level 49 was abnormally difficult.”
Chloe: “Yes I had trouble with that one too! There were a couple that took me longer than usual trying to work out the right solution. However, there were some that I completed in my first go purely through luck, without even finding out the right timing. But overall, it’s often a mere minute or less that you work out the correct timings and actions. This may seem like the game is too easy, but I think it matches the atmosphere well. To me, it was almost therapeutic, particularly with the motivating phrases about life throughout. It isn’t a game to frustrate you, but to help you relax.”
Mike: “Yeah and it helps that the music fits the mood. What did you make of the soundtrack overall? For me, the music suitably blends into the background, complementing the light sounds of the collisions and effects. That’s until it doesn’t. The inevitable repetition starts to grind, even through the short playtime. What I originally thought to be some subtle strokes of the ivory, morphed into a nightmarish loop of a mortgage advisor’s TV advert, where they try to convince you their flexible interest rates would provide your family comfort in darker times. Now admittedly, this could have been mirroring my frustration with the aforementioned Level 49 but for half the game I found it maddeningly grating.”
Chloe: “I do get where you’re coming from. At first, I thought the pretty piano piece was very fitting, and it does blend into the background. I found that because I was focused on the puzzles I almost zoned the music out and forgot it was there. That was until I was playing with my brother next to me and he commented on how the music was getting annoying! I then couldn’t stop thinking about it and had my Switch on low volume for the rest of my playthrough. A rotation of similar, relaxing instrumental songs would definitely help resolve this issue!”
Mike: “It’s something I often find anaemic within the genre and, as you say, just a couple of additional tracks would have fixed the problem.
We’ve covered the bulk of what is a very short game (something that was completed in roughly an hour) and it’s one that’s perhaps better suited for short bursts than a single session, but there’s a final element than warrants discussion; the narrative.
While I appreciate the attempt to bring some added personality to the mix, for the first 70 levels or so, the narrative appears little more than the type of pop-psychology one-liners you often see floating around social media. You know the ones, those derivative ‘inspirational messages’ people attach to their dead-eyed selfies, ‘today is tomorrow’s yesterday’ or some such nonsense.
However, there’s a broader mental health angle at play towards the end which, while we won’t spoil here, adds very welcome surprise to the otherwise flat effort. I suppose you could argue it was building to it, but it almost felt like many lines were crammed in just to leave a gap before the bombshell. Chloe, do you have a different take? Am I too cynical or just plain missing the point?”
Chloe: “I understand what you mean. They are the kind of quotes you’d see on sites like Facebook and Pinterest, with a picture of flowers behind it or a sunset! They felt a little forced sometimes just to have a phrase to insert in the level, not really included as part of the story.
However, it felt quite similar to some of the mental health apps that I’ve tried. Some motivational quotes can be quite silly and they don’t really help me in any way, but it’s nice to hear something positive. The game touches on some deeper, darker, and negative things at times, and struggles that we have to get through in life. That’s why I’ve described it as therapeutic, as having something encouraging alongside some simple puzzles is more relaxing, even if they are a little cheesy!
But yes, I agree, it isn’t exactly life-changing or bringing a mental health story that is going to stick in your mind forever. To me, they’re just phrases to accompany the gameplay and theme, nothing different to what I’ve seen floating around on the Internet. As you said, the ending is such a bombshell that it could be a build-up, but maybe it would be more effective to have some foreshadowing. Instead of focusing on ‘Top Ten Quotes to Inspire You!’ include something that hasn’t been covered before, or gives subtle hints to develop the story.”
Mike: “You make a good point though; at least it’s generally positive messaging. That said, I have no desire to listen to it all over again. This is very much a ‘one-and-done’ game for me. In terms of value for money, there’s no arguing you’re getting a good deal at such a low price, but I wouldn’t expect anyone to feel the need to dedicate much more than an hour in total if that. While you’re unlikely to remember the solutions to the puzzles bar the odd memorable buzzsaw pattern or gravity manipulation section, it doesn’t mean they’re ripe for experiencing a second time.”
Chloe: “For sure. This doesn’t mean that I regret playing the game, I enjoyed my time with it! But that time is short and because the puzzles are simple, they’re not enough to want to play them again. As you said, the price matches what you’re getting, and it is an hour well spent. It’s certainly a unique game that I wasn’t expecting from seeing the title alone, so if you’re looking for something a little different, it’s the game for you.”
Mike: “The flaws are minor, the overall experience worthwhile. If you have even a passing interest, it’s worth a purchase.”
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase One Person story from the Nintendo Store at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/One-Person-Story-1667519.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.