You and I have one chance to live our lives. All our choices, all the accomplishments and defeats and discoveries, are permanent: We can’t hammer a “restart” button whenever we get into an argument or mess up, just as we can’t click “continue” or “new game.”
Where the flash game One Chance gives you six days to live your life as the creator of a virus that’s eradicating the human population, One Single Life for iPod Touch gives you one chance to make a series of jumps. Death is eternal, the thrills momentary.
The crux of One Single Life is this: you get one single life to make an absurd building-to-building jump. If you make the jump, you continue on to the next jump, but when you miss its not just “game over" -- it’s game complete.
At the beginning of each segment, you’re shown a scoreboard that tells you how many people have died at that point, applying a kind of uncomfortable pressure that takes time to kindle in other games. Also, the entire level is also shown before the jump: You see the end goal and the level art before a plunge.
What troubles me about One Single Life is that it doesn’t embrace its design. It gives you an infinite amount of chances to test a jump in a grid-lined virtual room before you take the actual plunge, which robs the jump of its impact and kills some of the tenseness that builds up before your little avatar begins his run. Also, if you play through the credits, the game gives you an extra life.
“If Everything Was On The Line, Would I Have What It Takes?” This is the question that Fresh Tone Games says One Single Life answers. I guess if you fall, you don’t have what it takes.
I keep mentioning One Chance, but I need to because it highlights a lot of what One Single Life doesn't accomplish. One Chance does a better job presenting you with what’s on the line: You, your daughter, your wife, and the rest of the entire human race. You have six days to puzzle out a cure for a virus or cheat on those you love or spend the time with them. The emotional impact of the experience can be tremendous and player satisfaction, while not a given, can be attained.
In One Single Life, you have no clear idea of why you're doing what you're doing, which is a problem when a game is built like this is. Also, living with the consequences of a failed jump is hard to do when you know there are other extra lives to be had that don't require a form of cheating.
One Single Life is free and the thrills, while cheapened by the fact that death is not so eternal, are worth the download alone.
While playing, I thought a lot about game design in general, how it empowers us and enforces the notion that we can accomplish greater things if we work hard enough and stick to a given task or dream. I wish this game actually pounded away at this notion. We all have one life, and often we aren’t rewarded for staying honest, working hard, or doing the things games trumpet.
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