Feb 21, 2014
Only One starts off in dramatic fashion: a giant sword floating in the air, giving off a radiant aura. It descends to the ground, and is picked up by the protagonist, standing on a giant circular platform where the only exit is a steep drop to one’s death. He screams to the heavens:
“I will become…the only one!“
It’s a bold intro, yet a bit silly because the voice acting sounds hardly professional, but it perfectly encapsulates the Only One experience: it’s a bit silly, a bit crudely-made, but a lot of fun.
While it’s easy to call Only One an RPG, it’s more of an arena survival game with fantasy tropes. Players try to last as long as they can, leveling up each time they take out an enemy wave, be they warriors, archers, wizards, or anything else that wishes for the player to go from Only One to Absolute Zero. Players are equipped with a sword, can collect a shield to take additional damage, and collect power, the game’s currency to spend on health/shield upgrades, passive abilities, and active abilities that can be triggered to help deal with enemies, such as a freeze blast. Players have 70-plus levels to work through, with checkpoints every 10 levels, and a boss fight at the end of each ten-level gauntlet.
The sword action that serves as the heart of Only One‘s combat always feels a bit awkward because it’s such a limited motion, but players just have to get acclimated to it and how they can attack enemies with it. The touchscreen controls work decently enough: there’s a virtual floating joystick on the left side and action buttons lined vertically on the right.
The game supports HID gamepads, which I highly recommend using. Google Play Games is supported, but not cloud saving, which is unfortunate – I’d love to jump from my tablet to my phone and back easily without using Helium (which doesn’t work on one of my tablets). As well, while the game doesn’t have the greatest production values – it’s simple pixel art and sound effects are lovably crude – some older devices may struggle to run the game at maximum frames per second.
Sadly, the most fun part about Only One is one that isn’t necessarily in the player’s best interest: knocking enemies off the edge of the map. Sending an enemy to their doom by hitting them backwards is fun! Doing so by using the Force-push ability: even more fun! There’s also the bonus points that come from doing so. But because enemies drop power coins that inevitably go flying with them, this really isn’t in the player’s best interest to keep doing. Perhaps if the rewards were automatically collected? After all, fighting near the edges comes with its own risk: that players could fall off if an enemy knocks them off themselves or if the level starts to shake.
But that the enemies do try to do that shows just how smart the AI is here: it’s not comprised of geniuses, but it is full of enemies that do intelligent things. Like, for example, running away from the guy with the sword when they’re the last enemy standing instead of just standing there and taking damage like a fool resigned to their fate. Or a wizard with a teleportation ability that uses it when knocked off the arena. Hooray for intelligent systems!
Really, Only One is so much better than it should be based on how it looks and sounds; but thanks to the depth of its combat and fun features, it’s a must-play.