One Chance: What Choices Will You Make at the End of the World?

Posted by Andy Chalk (December 08, 2010)

There's a little indie game that's been getting a lot of attention over the past day or so called One Chance. The premise is simple: in six days, every living thing on the face of the planet will die. You have one chance.

I don't want to say too much about it because One Chance is an emotional sucker-punch that needs to land cleanly in order to be effective - in other words, no spoilers. All you need to know, and all you want to know, is that the world is ending and as it happens, you will have terrible choices to make.

I urge you to play it at Newgrounds before you read further. Come back when you're ready.

And if you're back, or just too stubborn to do as you're asked, we shall carry on.

What did you think? Did you struggle with your decisions? Did you find each day's choices harder than the day before? Were you wrenched by the outcome? Were you disappointed, shocked, maybe angry when you realized that your choices were your choices and you were going to have to live with them? (Yes, I know it's easy enough to cheat your way to another try. That's not the point.)

Some people react to games like this much more strongly than others. A lot of that is dependent on the attitude of the individual; they hit me hard because I do everything I can to maximize the experience. Tim Rohrer's Passage, for instance, broke my heart. I remember stopping, utterly stunned, when my in-game love - a little, pixellated blob that followed me around for only a minute or two in real life - died near the end of our journey together. I finished the game. I never played it again.

For the same reason, I appreciate the conclusion of One Chance and have no desire to replay it either. Most video games serve up a sort of low-level emotional buzz through the intensity of gameplay; One Chance waits until the point of no return to deliver its payload, which depends as much on what you didn't do as on what you did. Call me naive or unsophisticated, but I prefer to leave that payoff intact.

Do games like this work for you? Do you feel it in your gut when the big moment comes, or does it just roll off your back? There's no right or wrong answer here, because like every other form of artistic expression, not all games are going to resonate with all gamers. But for those who do feel it, One Chance is a fantastic example of the impact games are capable of. It's an awful, dreadful experience, and it gives me real hope for the future of the medium.

Andy Chalk is a freelance writer and PC gamer whose work appears on The Escapist, Gamezebo. Joystiq and elsewhere - even, sometimes, here!


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