Gain the ability to control time, for a short while.
Written by Thom van Tilburg on August 20th, 2018.
OneShift is a puzzle platformer developed by Mazen Games. This new indie developer made its debut early this year with AtmaSphere, a “roll-a-ball” game, and is already back with its second release. Like many of the smaller indie games you find on Steam, OneShift takes its target genre and adds to it with one feature or concept from which all gameplay and aesthetic choices develop. For OneShift this is the ability to freeze and unfreeze time. By pressing the left control key (though I recommend remapping this to your own taste) time will freeze, allowing you to switch between different map layouts in order to get closer to your goal – for your character to reach one or more digital cubes placed somewhere on the map. This feature of stopping time and switching map layouts is at the core of the game and leads to fun and engaging levels, especially in the latter stages.
What needed more time:
Unfortunately this is the point where we start to come across the less enjoyable aspects of the game. First off, the controls are rather clunky which often lead to frustration whenever a death happens because of them. In great puzzle and platforming games you will often come across difficult challenges and see plenty of failures, but strong gameplay and level design leave the player with the sense that they were using the wrong strategy or reacting incorrectly. With OneShift, most failures come from the controls, leaving you frustrated with the game’s design instead of feeling challenged to learn from your mistakes. The fact that there are five different achievements connected to you dying doesn’t help ease this frustration.
Speaking of which, this game loves to bring out its inner Oprah when it comes to its achievements. There are basically two ways to earn them – completing a level or performing a type of action so many times. And when I say “completing a mission” I mean this for every, single mission. After playing for just 15 minutes, I had already earned 25% of all 126 achievements in the game. OneShift just hands you prizes for every small thing you do. It came to a point that when I wasn’t even halfway through the levels, I had already unlocked five additional characters (and received the accompanying achievement for it). Rewarding your player isn’t a negative thing, but the rate at which OneShift does it just makes achievements feel unrewarding.
Information-wise the visuals clearly translate everything they need to. White blocks are movable, red ones will kill you, and pink tiles work as jump pads. Unfortunately this is where any aesthetic aspirations end. The music is rather bland to the point that multiple times you will only hear wind sounds for 30 seconds straight. Visually, the blue gradient background might even be more forgettable than the soundtrack. However this does help in keeping the focus on the foreground, making it less of an issue. Considering OneShift only costs $3.99 we shouldn’t hold this last point against the game too much. However, stiff controls and the urge to over-reward players definitely hold the game back, taking away its chance to become one of those hidden indie gems.
If you are a fan of puzzle games you will definitely have a fun time with OneShift. Aesthetic-wise there isn’t much to keep your attention for extended periods of time. Though, this might not be such a terrible thing as the short duration of the game and stiff, clunky controls really start to become apparent once you put in more than 20 to 30 minutes. So with all that in mind I can’t give this game a higher grade than a six. If you love small puzzle platforming games and have an afternoon to spend, go ahead and have fun. If you aren’t the biggest fan of the genre you might want to spend your time playing something else.
Gameplay: The time-freeze feature makes for some fun and engaging puzzles.
Graphics: A minimalist approach keeps the focus on the foreground but is forgettable in the long run.
Controls: Stiff controls really take away from enjoyment and will cause most of your failures. If possible, using a controller is definitely recommended.
Sound: The ambient soundtrack is bland and often unchanging.
Fun Factor: Fun and engaging puzzles make OneShift a good time for any puzzle fan.
Final Rating: 6/10. If you love small puzzle platforming games and have an afternoon to spend, go ahead and have fun with OneShift. If you aren't the biggest fan of the genre you might want to spend your time playing something else.
They made a game about controlling time but themselves didn't put in enough to make the most of it.
About The Author
Hey everyone! I am an aspiring writer with a passion for telling stories and entertaining people. Whenever I am not writing you can find me in the nearest theater checking out the newest movies, learning a new skill (right now that is playing the piano!) or out on some crazy adventure!
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