Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Tfw you invent a cure for cancer and it becomes an unstoppable disease that starts to kill everyone on the planet. One Chance is a short scrolling story game that puts you in the role of that scientist man, John Pilgrim, as he tries to fix his own research team’s mess by making daily decisions about what to do next. If you haven’t heard of it and don’t want the entire point of the story taken away from you, then just go play it. It’s quite good. Otherwise, read on.The point is that you can only play it once, the clue was in the name. Your browser saves the end-state of the game and any return to the page will simply greet you with whatever final scene you had. Obviously, you can get around this with some cache fiddling but it’s bad form, and to do so would pervert the whole purpose of the game: to live with the consequence of your decisions.
Even today, most games have either not learned how powerful a device this can be, or they don’t want to indulge in it out of fear. Yes, we have Ironman mode in strategy games like XCOM – an excellent handicap that gives extra weight to every small choice and extra misery to every large setback. But I would love to see someone like BioWare add such a mode, making you live with the death of a character, and not from a decision that was clear and obvious (press left to save John, press right to save Jane) but from decisions that are only harmful in hindsight. One Chance gave the world of game design a small, understated lesson in remorse. Six years later, it’s disappointing to see that few studios have applied it.