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.”

This is the reason why games like One Chance and One Single Life [Free] exist. Living with choice is powerful, especially when there are no nets.

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.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Noah

    Wait, so once you die you have to delete the app and redownload it again to play again?

    • SMP

      Maybe, but that kinda defeats the purpose of the game.

  • SMP

    Its an iPhone game, I don't think it's trying to unravel the secrets of the universe. However, I do like the concept for an iPhone games. It really is the kind of game idea that could only work as an indie game rather than a full retail release, or even a $10 game. It does seem like a lame compromise to let the player practice a level, or to give them an extra life. I would hope that some of the negative reaction online didnt sway them, because in no way should the Internet be entitled to tell them how to make their games.

  • gobshite

    lmao at the writeup, what utter shite.

  • Fredrik Jackson

    Why do they stop releasing iOS games in Norway? We wanna try these games just as much as americans.

  • Rafael Debes

    what a stupid idea, you die its game over forever... they are trying to use this to catch attenction, but will fail for sure.

  • Rafael Debes

    what a stupid idea, you die its game over forever... they are trying to use this to catch attenction, but will fail for sure.

  • Jay

    The game's icon is interesting, too -- it's as if the creators expect you -- or *want* you -- to die. I agree with the review; if it's really going to be "game over" there should be higher stakes and a longer run-up to them.

  • Ádám Kecskeméti

    Guys, I don't know whether you cannot understand what you read, or the article was tl;dr for you, but if you succeed at the credits game, you'll get a one up.

  • yea I said it

    Well it seems that these games where developer make it easy to just die and easily continue has really spoiled a lot of gamers. As a long time gamer, I remember when it used to cost a quarter per game in the arcades. You had 3 lives (with possible 1-ups) and that was it. If you failed you had to pump in quarter after quarter. That being said, this kind of approach is actually not really new, but maybe more old-school.

    I have to hand it to this developer for trying to do something different. Its a great idea, free (for now), and obviously polarizing with gamers. But then again, like any other game, either it appeals to you or it doesn't. If you want to knock this game for what it isn't then you should just go play Canabalt or any other endless running game. I for one embrace the fact that it offers a completely different experience.

    • SMP

      Theres definitely alot to be spoiled by with modern game conventions. I definitely can't say I could go without those games, I'm glad to see games like One Single Life. There is definitely a place for everything, something for everyone, that's definitely a good thing.

  • Mike

    I really like this game. It was different, original, thought-provoking, and free. I totally disagree with the reviewer that removing the practice levels would benefit the game. I felt it was hard enough with them, and I don't think it detracted at all from the game, in fact I think it would be terrible without them. Pool (billiards) is the best analogy I can think of at the moment. Have you ever finished a game and there are still balls on the table and you just casually make all of them with no real effort? It's because there's no pressure and that makes it easy, much like the training levels have no pressure but actually making the real jump is a tense moment (just like actually making a difficult shot on the 8 ball for the game). And the extra guy? Come on, that's an easter egg, maybe they should have only awarded it for beating the credits with one life (wouldn't have gotten it myself, but in that case you'd really have to earn it).

  • TinyTechnician

    This somehow reminds me of "lose/lose" which was a computer game that actually destroyed your files while you played.

    Some people will call it a gimmick-app but I think it does a good job of making the user feel "emotional" (stressed, scared, etc) on a slightly higher level that just can't be done in other games/apps where you know you can always just "start over".

    I like the fact that today there is a fairly easy way for ideas like this to be published. Yeah, a whole bunch of bad ideas are also published but stuff like this (out-of-the-box thinking or whatever you want to call it) is how other really great things start.

  • Anonymous

    How about adding Game Center, have one achievement for playing, dying and making it all the way and leaderboards to see who on your friends list made it the farthest. It's an interesting concept, I haven't played it yet so I can't say for sure yet.

  • Anonymous

    I was extrordinary!

  • Gobeatty

    A new twist!

    I died, completed the Credits game, and got a new life.

    I died again (it happens), completed the Credits game, and DIDN'T get a new life!

  • Joseph

    Have do you even do that final credit (Special Thanks) jump? There is one cloud....

    • Joseph

      I feel stupid for posting this 5 seconds after I just posted it but I found out.

  • Robert

    please, bloody mention You Only Live Once, ... this was done 2 years ago!

  • Ted

    for those that don't get this game, think of it as an art piece. better yet, take an art appreciation class and expand your mind.

  • Adams Immersive

    Storing your UDID and/or GameCenter ID online could be a way to make death truly permanent without simple workarounds.

    I think you should be able to die and re-play the game as much as you like, BUT, for the sake of those who really like it and want the full experience, at the end of each game you could be offered a $4.99 IAP which makes the app non-functional forever.

  • Rosy

    I like this game. I didnt practice any levels, and fell. I did the credits because i thought there must be a way to get extra lives and I got it, woop. Then I thought I could keep doing that, so i died again pretty soon. Now the credits say "those with faith will be rewarded". I did it again a few times, waited 24 hours, did it again. Still the same story, no third life. I have faith though. Some day I will get another life. I can't wait.

One Single Life Reviewed by Brad Nicholson on . Rating: 3