Disappointment of the Year 2015 Runner-Up: One Button Travel16 Dec 2015 0
To be a disappointment, there must first be an expectation of something special. For example, I'm a huge disappointment to my parents who were hoping I'd become a doctor and instead play Galaxy Trucker all day in my pajamas. Likewise, when a new game arrives from vaunted developers The Coding Monkeys, we sit up and take notice. When that game is interactive fiction and initial trailers look like it might melt our brains, we poke the App Store refresh button like a chicken pecking at corn. Then we finally get to play it and the dream falls apart.
It doesn't take long to realize that One Button Travel isn't the pinnacle of interactive fiction. The game consists of you pressing a button which initiates your journey, only to be interrupted via faux text messages from a stranger who tells you to cancel your trip. You see, he's in the future and that's where you'll go if you don't cancel. Going to the future doesn't sound bad, but your friend tells you otherwise. It's a totalitarian state where those from the past who have been brought to their time are herded like criminals into ghettos. They're called "The Stranded" and they live like animals and have no rights in future society. So far, it all sounds great, but it falls apart quickly mainly due to the storytelling technique that One Button Travel employs: playing a game via text messages isn't fun.
One Button Travel plays in real-time, so you will be waiting minutes to hours between conversations with your future friend. What's annoying is that much of those messages are complete exposition not requiring any input from you at all. Remember you? The one "playing" One Button Travel? There were many times where I'd get a notification only to click through 4-5 short text messages and that's it. No choices for me to make, just badly written text. (For the record, I don't think the badly written text is the writer's fault. It's just the nature of the medium. Writing can only be so good when it's doled out in 100 characters or less tidbits.) When you do get a chance to influence the action by picking choice A or B, the protagonist whom you're interacting with will often disagree with you and do the other option. Who's playing this game? Seriously, by the end of the week I was praying for the game to end so I could be done with it.
One Button Travel isn't the worst game on the App Store by any means, it's just incredibly subpar for something from the same developer who brought us gems like Carcassonne, Rules, and Lost Cities. Sure, everyone is allowed a failure now and again, but it sure is disappointing when it happens to one of your favorite developers.
To see all of the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2015 Awards, visit the 2015 Awards Index page.