I don’t actually know how to start off this review so I’ll just be very straight forward. I was asked to review a recently released indie game titled One Way Trip by a startup development studio called Beret Applications LLC. I’m just gonna come right out and say it. This is the worst game I’ve ever been asked to review. I’m still going to present an objective, fully detailed recount of my experience with the game and I’m still going to address all the same points that I would for any other game review. But know that there is no possible justification for purchasing this game. I can in no way, shape, or form endorse even the most dedicated of collectors and gaming enthusiasts to waste a single penny on this grossly mislabeled “adventure game”.
Visually, I was not impressed with One Way Trip. This is because I was judging it as a video game. This game, if it can even be called that, is a sequence of static, hand drawn backgrounds and characters that are recycled countless times to give off the appearance of movement. Nothing is actually rendered. For example, one of the main characters often gets excited. The way this is expressed is by using a single picture of the character smiling and moving up and down in the same place kind of like replaying a .gif over and over on top of a static hand drawn background. All the characters in the game “move” in similar fashion. Just a few hand drawn versions of them being put in different places on the screen and occasional changes to the background, which is also static. Essentially it’s like how the original South Park episodes from the first season were made but with a much less consistent and practical art style.
The game is not pretty. The art is inconsistent between characters and settings. Some characters are drawn extremely realistically while others look very cartoony. The color scheme is purposely psychedelic because one of the overarching themes of the plot is hallucination coupled with a futuristic setting. Vibrant colors and strobes of colors are used to depict a setting that comes off as way more stylized than this story, which does want to be serious, needs to be. And the characters themselves are inconsistent in style as well. The two main characters look and dress like actual people. Many other characters do not. Some wear silly white masks and others where a host of odd looking clothing accessories such as tiaras, large hats, and scarves tied around their heads. To try and use any specific word to quantify the characters’ dress code would be impossible. Some look like hipsters, others hippies from the 70’s, some average Joes, and some just absolutely ridiculous. But unlike in real life, these characters aren’t running around in groups. The hipster, hippie, and average Joe are all running around together as if there is no standardized way for people to dress and behave. While that may be some ideal utopian society, it’s not the society we live in. And considering the themes and setting of this game, it’s not the society the characters live in either. Even the president in the game looks odd. She wears a normal business suit but happens to have bright blue hair. While hallucinations are a part of the game, the way content is presented is not always from the point of view of the people who are being affected by hallucinogens. This lack of consistency makes it seem like the characters aren’t actually hallucinating but actually the developers themselves might have been when making the game. That wouldn’t surprise me because drugs come up a lot in this game.
The thing I hated most about the graphics in this game is the text. The plot is text based. There is no plot related audio of any sort in One Way Trip. That’s fine and in no way automatically means a game will be bad. Text based RPGs have existed for decades and are a beloved genre by many people, including myself. But when text is your key means of expressing the plot it’s really important that the text is legible. This is not the case in this particular game. First off, all the text is hand written. Someone literally wrote all the dialog and plot captions in the game with either a really bad pencil or MS Paint and then they just through them up on the screen. They aren’t consistent in positioning and many of the letters aren’t legible. L’s are one of the letters this writer really needs to work on. The second problem is that the left side of the screen cuts off the text box. Interestingly this doesn’t occur with the screenshots which mean this is a screen resolution issue and not a general output problem, but there’s no in game options to change your resolution so I just had to live with it. This really only affects the names of characters but it’s still a huge problem for a game that’s entirely text based.
I think that if this game had instead been made as a book, online comic, or short film I would have appreciated the visual style a lot more. But as a game it’s absolutely horrendous and I can’t condone this developer or any developer doing another project in this specific art style(s) ever again.
The gameplay is the most disappointing part of all, because there actually isn’t any. This is an entirely text based adventure. But it’s not good like SanctuaryRPG. It’s essentially like playing a TellTale Games adventure with all the non-text elements removed. That’s not in any way, shape, or form meant to be a statement that expresses the quality of the story, but rather to express the one and only gameplay mechanic. There is no walking around, fighting, picking up objects, or any sort of chosen interactions. All you do is read text and chooses responses at specific points in the dialog. Sometimes you have two choices and sometimes you have four. And as with TellTale Games projects, silence is an option, at least some of the time anyway. That’s all you do in this game. Read, choose responses, and look at funky, overly stylized pictures that make you feel like you’re having a bad trip.
What’s really irritating is that you are constantly led to believe that you will actually get to play. The game takes about six hours. I know that because one of the main plot devices in the story is that you only have six hours to live. Throughout these six hours you can make choices and go on an adventure that involves shooting thought controlled laser guns, psychic powers, drones, textually expressed, but never really shown, battles full of carnage and death, and a number of other things. But at no point in the more than two hours that I played did I actually get to do any of these things. You get to read about it. Sometimes you get to see it. But never do you actually get to shoot anything, punch anyone, or accomplish anything. You just choose what to do and read about the outcome. You can make the wrong choices. There are certain moments where you can choose wrong and die. When this happens the game instantly resets to the last choice that led to your death. Now based on the screen shots I’ve seen I was led to believe you actually did get to do some real playing. This is a game where you make choices and I’m willing to concede that it’s possible, regardless of how unlikely, that maybe I just made all the wrong choices and never got to see any actual gameplay based combat. But to be fair, that seems very unlikely considering the story path I chose. The one thing I can commend about the gameplay is that there’s no loading except between sequences and it’s usually pretty short.
Even though this is a very simple looking and passive gameplay experience, the game is somehow not without its technical problems. The game gets stuck at certain points and loops specific sequences. The game doesn’t freeze or shut down and the music keeps playing, but you can’t actually do anything. On several occasions I had to quit the game from the pause menu or restart the whole application. The game itself is just really buggy in certain places, but thankfully it didn’t have any effect on my console as a whole. It was at most inconvenient but not at all a safety risk to my PS4.
The game autosaves at random points in the plot by going to the console save screen rather than saving in game. It just happens with no warning at certain points in the story. You can quit at any time and you will reload to your last save point. The overall point is that the gameplay, which isn’t even really gameplay, is terrible. It’s boring, glitchy, and misleading through and through. I honestly didn’t make it to the end of the game and it’s a wonder I made it as far as I did.
It is my opinion that the sound, or more specifically music, was the entire point of this project. As stated above, there are no sound effects. The only sound you hear is music. There are a number of tracks, all of which are underground indie hip hop and rock. Some of it isn’t bad, but the sound quality varies from track to track. One track in particular is full of static. The music just loops like a playlist set to shuffle and has a short break between tracks. It never stops playing. Whether you’re paused, watching a textless sequence, or actually taking part in the dialog, the music is always cycling. There are no sound options or options of any kind for that matter. All you can do is pause, but only at certain points, and choose to continue or quit. At the main menu it’s either new game or continue.
The writing is all over the place. The basic idea was that Beret Applications LLC wanted to create a multifaceted story with choices that can go in multiple directions based on your choices. They accomplished that. The problem is that their writing style is mind-numbingly bad and their story is full of clichés and plot holes. The overarching plot is that the main character (you) and his brother have been poisoned, supposedly by terrorists, along with a significant portion of the public by drinking tainted water. You have six hours to live and have to decide how to spend it. There are different plot lines, but I chose to join a group of revolutionaries that seek to topple the government in hopes of finding a cure which supposedly was being kept secret by the President of “Nation” which seemed to be the name of either the city or very small country the story takes place in. Could technically be both if it’s like Singapore. The plot at face value isn’t the worst, but the way it’s presented and developed is atrocious.
Time progresses with title cards that say things like “end of first hour”, to constantly remind you that you only have six. But some of these cards are much less informative or necessary like “five minutes later.” One card actually said “an unknown amount of time later”, which is really pointless in a game that’s constantly playing on the you only have six hours to live angle. Not to mention that a ton of stuff happens in what is supposedly the first two hours of the game. You don’t get to a single battle until after having experienced two straight hours of just talking to various characters.
The characters are weird. Some of them have normal names like Gordon, the main character, and Kurt, some random revolutionary who ultimately gets shot without a second thought. But other characters have names like “Rice Rocket” and “Persimmon Murder Murder”. The dialog tries to be realistic even while taking place in mostly unrealistic scenarios. What this causes is a lot of vulgarity and a lot of people spouting off crap to try and make sense of scenarios that normal humans don’t usually have to process. In a lot of ways it’s very realistic. A big part of the game seems to be human introspection. The two main characters, who are brothers, often talk about the mental and emotional strain of knowing they are going to be dead in a matter of hours while still taking part in an attempted revolutionary coup against the government. Throughout my adventure they had to kill government controlled cyborgs and see their comrades get murdered in cold blood all while still understanding that they were going to die regardless of what happened in the long run unless they could find a cure. But basically this just leads the bulk of the characters to hurl insults at each other, curse a lot, and come off like your average college student who thinks they know about life after their struggles living at home with their parents and then having to live in dorm room with annoying roommates. This is made even more apparent by the fact that the game starts with the two brothers in their dorm room. They’re style of speech doesn’t change from that opening point to when they’ve already been captured, watched their friends get murdered, and then escaped. The content of their conversations may change in theme, but their speech patterns don’t. And the characters they meet along the way were clearly written by the same person or small team of people because they all speak pretty much the same tonally.
What’s also really weird about the writing is that throughout the game you are given the option to try out this video game inside the game. But it’s not really a game at all. It’s just a very boring and realistic story about college students being college students. It plays exactly like the regular game, but nothing really happens. You just follow the dialog, which is extremely repetitive, and make a few choices which really boil down to sleep, do homework, do drugs, or hang out with friends who will then ask you if you want to do drugs. This part of the game was especially glitchy, for the record. I think the fact that One Way Trip literally starts with the main character watching a documentary about sex robots tells you all you need to know about overall the quality of the plot.
There is some replay value in One Way Trip if you dare to finish it the first time and then can stand to put yourself through it again. There are seven trophies, most of which are plot/choice based. Like with TellTale Games titles, you have to make decisions that supposedly drastically change the outcome of the story and each of those outcomes gets you a trophy. That being said, a first playthrough takes only about six hours, but the game costs $15. That’s way too high for this steaming pile and if the only way to get your money’s worth is to play through it again two or three more times, that’s practically a torture sentence. This is a definite pass.
One Way Trip is being referred to as a video game, but that’s only because today anyone can just say they’ve made a video game because you have to press buttons to experience it. In reality it’s more like a badly written interactive comic book. It reminds me a lot of those choose you path Goosebumps books I used to read when I was a kid except for those books didn’t suck. I think the best way to describe this “game” is with a hypothetical anecdote. Imagine that you’re in college and your “friend” who you don’t really like is kind of crazy, really into drugs, and unrealistically driven to complete specific self-chosen goals. One day he says he’s going to make a video game. You lie and tell him that’s a good idea, but in your head you laugh it off and think it will never happen. Then he runs off and you don’t see him for months. Sometime later he reappears and tells you he finally finished the game and he wants you to try it. You are very surprised and impressed, making you eager to try it out. Then you play it and you realize he just wrote a crappy comic book and scanned the pictures into his computer and made it so you could choose the way the story unfolds with a simple pre-built story editor program. You somehow drudge through to the end of the game and think to yourself this is kind of a game, but no one in their right mind would actually pay money for this. Then when he asks you what you thought you lie and tell him he should totally put it up on Steam or something. That’s what this is. DON’T BUY IT!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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