Cover art for OneShot
|Developer(s)||Little Cat Feet|
|Release||December 9, 2016|
OneShot is a puzzle and adventure indie game developed by Little Cat Feet and published by Degica. Based on a 2014 free version, it was released for Steam on December 8, 2016. The game is centered around metafictional concepts, which have been described by the developers as "the world knows you exist". This affects its story, which depicts the player as a separate character from Niko, the protagonist. Both characters arrive in an unfamiliar world, and aim to replace its sun at the top of a tower. OneShot received largely positive reviews, most of which focused on its narrative aspects.
In OneShot, the player controls the child Niko, who is placed into an unfamiliar sunless world. Although the game exclusively shows Niko's viewpoint, employing a top-down perspective, the player is a separate character. Throughout the game, Niko can rest, causing the program to close; upon reopening, a short dream sequence is played.
As is typical for role-playing video games, gameplay is primarily composed of solving puzzles (including fetch quests) involving items. Items can either be used to interact with a specific location, or combined to form a new item. Throughout the game, the player encounters in-game computers, which signal that the player has to find content outside the game, including in the filesystem. This can also involve interacting with the computer in other ways – for instance, moving the game window off-screen and back to mimic developing film. Due to these concepts the in-game instructions recommend playing in windowed mode.
The game's protagonist is a juvenile cat-like person,[a] Niko, who awakes in an dark and unfamiliar house. They interact with a computer, which addresses the player by a name derived from the computer's login name via an external dialog box. According to the machine, the world that Niko currently is in is close to ruin, and the goal of the player is to guide Niko back to their homeworld. They discover the world's sun, which takes the form of a lightbulb, and use it to exit the house, emerging in a barren wasteland.
There, they encounter a robot, who informs them that they are prophesised to save the world. Niko's goal is to carry the sun through the world's three areas, and place it at the top of a central tower, restoring light to the world; the current area, termed the "Barrens", is a desolate wasteland. This robot teaches Niko to communicate with the player's presence, discovering that the player apparently is a god, or the "Messiah" of the in-game world. Their responsibility in-game as a god is purportedly to assist and guide Niko. Niko meets Silver, a more sentient "tamed" robot, who gifts them a piece of amber, which Niko uses to journey into the next area of the world.
This area, termed the "Glen", has arboreal characteristics. To aid their journey, Niko interacts with the area's residents, including the younger child Alula and older child Calamus, as well as the nature spirit Maize. Niko finally enters the urbanised third area, the "Refuge", and is directed to city library; they travel down to the city's surface to get there, meeting various characters, such as a lamplighter, along the way. Once at the library, they are directed to the head librarian, George, and get her attention with the help of researcher Kip Silverpoint. After some study, George translates a book of Niko's. It states that the tower, which is controlled by an "entity", can be accessed using three phosphoric items. This "entity" is apparently the same voice that interacted with the player at the beginning of the game, and has some level of control over the world. Niko happens to have two suitable items on hand, and George gifts them the final one.
Niko arrives at the tower, with the player missing. The entity informs them that both they and the player have reached their goal, and that they will return home now. Niko sees this as anti-climatic, and the player reappears, guiding them to the top. Discovering notes made by a mysterious figure termed "the Author", they learn that the entity has grown out of control and became destructive. Once at the top, the Author informs them that they can either break the sun and return Niko home, which would destroy the world, or place the sun at the top of the tower, trapping Niko in this world. Niko leaves the decision up to the player, forming the ending of the game.
After the completion of the game, a note appears in the user's Documents folder, allowing the player to continue via the alternate "Solstice" ending path. This begins similarly to the main path, with the exception of Niko possessing a book by the Author. When Niko meets Silver, they travel to an observation room instead, and meet a more advanced prototype of the robot in the Barrens. The prototype reminds Niko of the events of the original story line, which took place before this repeat. According to them, the world is a simulation, termed the "World Machine"; this new run is a reset of the machine.
Niko, Silver, and the prototype travel to the Glen, but the latter two are crushed by a rockfall. There, Niko meets Calamus and Alula again, before encountering the mechanic Cedric and repairing his plane. Cedric tells Niko that his father was the Author, and that he created the World Machine after the previous world's destruction, to prevent it from repeating. Niko and Cedric take the plane to the Refuge, and Cedric uses a backup to restore the prototype, instructing Niko to find Rue, a sentient fox. Rue reveals that the World Machine and the Entity are the same; Niko's presence in the world corrupted its intent. Cedric and the restored prototype reappear, and alongside Niko, they enter the internals of the world machine, "taming" it and reversing its destructive behaviour. Afterwards, the world is restored, reverting the deaths of characters, and Niko returns home.
The game started as freeware; this version was made in a month, and released online on June 30, 2014 by creators Eliza Velasquez and Casey Gu. It was developed as an entry for RPGMakerWeb's 2014 Indie Game Maker Contest, but did not receive any accolades.
According to Gu, OneShot was designed with an all-encompassing "dark but vibrant" theme to reflect the lack of sunlight in the setting. The areas of its world were inspired by the RGB colour model, and music for each area was only composed after its respective visual design was completed. Both Gu and Velasquez cite several thematic inspirations for the original game, including Hyper Light Drifter, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, Yume Nikki, and The Little Prince. In a later interview with PC Gamer, Velasquez also attributed the fourth-wall-breaking aspect of the game to the character Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid.
After being featured at GDC, the previous version's "rerelease" was made available on Steam two years later, on December 8, 2016. On March 28, 2017, the Steam version was updated, with a new "Solstice" ending path that solved some mysteries that players had about the game's content. A Mac release of this version was made available on May 31, 2018, with gameplay intended to be "as close to the Windows version as possible". This was followed by a Linux version, which was released on April 24, 2019.
OneShot received largely positive reviews according to the review aggregator Metacritic. Rock, Paper, Shotgun writer John Walker referred to it as "completely charming, delightfully written, and extremely clever" Charlie Nicholson of New Game Network compared it to Undertale and Pony Island, but conceded that it wasn't "revolutionary"'.
Multiple reviewers commended the metafictional aspects of the game. Walker claimed that "It does stuff with my PC that I didn't know games could do". Charlie Nicholson praised its "transcen[sion of]... boundaries to directly involve the player", stating that he was tempted "to resort to blue-tacking [his] webcam".
Hardcore Gamer reviewer Spencer Rutledge praised the game's story, stating that "OneShot effortlessly conveys emotion". Walker stated that its cast "nearly always contain[s] a moment that will make you smile". Opposingly, Nicholson claimed it did not have depth compared to other metafictional games, deeming its cast "lacking" and too distant from Niko. Both Nicholson and Rutledge positively reviewed the game's art direction, with the former stating that it aurally "almost seems like a dream at times".
- Walker, John (December 12, 2016). "Wot I Think: OneShot". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Walker, John (December 9, 2016). "OneShot is bursting with nice ideas, and out now". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
- Nicholson, Charlie (January 31, 2017). "Oneshot Review". New Game Network. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Little Cat Feet (December 8, 2016). OneShot. Degica. Scene: Instructions.
- Makedonski, Brett (March 14, 2016). "The key to beating OneShot probably won't be in the game". Destructoid. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Winkie, Luke (September 8, 2017). "OneShot is a bizarre adventure game full of fourth-wall-breaking moments". PC Gamer. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
- Grayson, Nathan (December 11, 2016). "OneShot Is A Game Where The Main Character Knows Who You Are". Kotaku. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Rutledge, Spencer (December 7, 2017). "Review: OneShot". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Grayson, Nathan (March 28, 2017). "Months Later, OneShot Gets A New Ending". Kotaku. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- "Oneshot, an indie Puzzle Adventure game for RPG Tsukuru 2003 :: rpgmaker.net". rpgmaker.net. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- "INDIE GAME MAKING CONTEST 2014 WINNERS!". RPGMakerWeb. September 30, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- Brierley, Louis (July 26, 2017). "[INTERVIEW] OneShot". Heavy. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- "OneShot on Steam". Steam. December 8, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Caldwell, Brendan (June 1, 2018). "OneShot is out on Mac and that's nice for you, Dan". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
- "OneShot is out for Linux!". Steam. April 24, 2019.
- "OneShot for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Dwan, Hannah (October 27, 2017). "Public voting and the nominations for the 2017 Golden Joystick Awards are now up". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- "Eliza, Hello, I really like this game but one question (I..." Tumblr. March 6, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- "I make games!, What is Niko's gender (if they have one)? I heard..." Tumblr. March 15, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2019.