Steam, you may have noticed, is a little bit broken. One of its multifarious idiosyncrasies is to include games that absolutely have not been released in its full list of released games. Every now and then I'll spot a game that looks worth a peek, go to install it, and find it doesn't even have a release date yet. So I tend to stick them on my wishlist and forget they exist. One such game that just popped up in my email as now released is OneShot [official site]. I don't even have half a recollection of ever marking it, but gosh I'm glad I did. I've been playing it this morning and this top-down meta pixel adventure is completely charming.
"Meta" in a game description has come to be something that puts me off. It tends to mean "agonisingly self-referential" rather than anything interesting. Not so here, I'm pleased to say - rather it means that the game character knows that you're in control, and the two of you enter a complicated relationship of understanding who each other are.
Things start off with your feline-ish character waking up in a dark room with nothing but a bed, bookshelf and computer, and no idea where she is. Get outside, pick up a light bulb on your way and you discover a world of darkness, sparsely populated by the few remaining robots who still have power in a world without sun. You are, explains the first robot you meet with all the right amount of self-awareness, the chosen one, the one mentioned in prophecy, the one who will return light to this world. And so begins an adventure of untangling what's happened here, how you got here, and who you - you - are in all this.
I shall have a review for you next week, but in the meantime let me intrigue you with this anecdote:
At one point I found a bed in an abandoned shelter, and looking at it my character asked me if I, "John" (I still don't know how it learned my name, eek), would mind if she had a rest. Sure, I said, and she lay down and the game switched off. Back to desktop. I reloaded it, and the character was in the middle of a dream, hand-drawn pictures of her frolicking in a brightly lit field of corn, memories of her home. Waking up, she then was a little unnerved to learn I'd seen the dream too, and we had a discussion about what world I'm from and the nature of my own Sun, with limited choices that let me be honest or keep secrets. That's quite the thing.
It's out now on Steam for £6.30/$9/€9.