Review: One Hour One Life01 Oct 2018 1
Review: One Hour One Life
Released 17 Aug 2018
Time is precious, but hardly more so than in One Hour One Life. The mobile multiplayer survival game features an intriguing concept at its core. Your in-game lifespan is exactly as the title implies: one hour long. With each minute that ticks away representing an hour of time that's passed in the game world,
As you struggle to make sense of your existence in this austere, hand-drawn world, you'll try your best to leave some sort of memory behind, whether it's in the form of your old children who follow you or the eventual technical advancements that will eventually come to the game. It's all about relying on your fellow man to carry you – and carrying you in turn, which really results in something special.
The game can only be played online, meaning that all interactions that you have with other players will echo throughout the game for the foreseeable future. Yes, there's permadeath, and yes, you're going to die over and over. That's a fact – best to get used to it early on. Following the game's lengthy tutorial, you're born into the world with one important goal: Survive, as long as you possibly can. Of course, this all greatly depends on what kind of mother you're born to, oddly enough. This is a game that, like life itself, calculates success largely based on the hand you're dealt at birth.
It's possible the mother you're born to is a robust fighter looking for another strong child to add to her brood, or you could even find that your new mom doesn't care about you at all, can't get you food, or even protect you from predators. Luckily, you can grow quickly to sustain yourself, but without your mother's help early on death is almost certainly assured. This kind of game mechanic makes for some extremely interesting beginnings, especially as it means you must rely heavily on other, real people to make any progress through the game.
You're not a helpless baby for long, though. Given that you age a year a minute, if you can survive long enough you'll grow to an age where you're no longer a burden on your mother and family and learn to help around the village gathering food supplies or at the very least not acting as a burden on other players. Until you’re past your early childhood years, you can’t even communicate properly with others – you’re relegated to basic words and phrases until you’ve survived long enough to receive that “privilege,” which may end up being for the best.
That's the beauty of the game. You can act as you wish, whether it's as a tyrant who destroys resources and steals food from other players, or you can play the role that was intended for you as you grow into an "elder" and find a place somewhere in the game where you can survive peacefully and act as a sort of beacon for others who make it as long as you do.
There's a wide variety of crafting materials, and you'll spend a lot of time tapping around to see exactly what you can create. The game's environments are practically teeming with different things for you to use to make your own little life, including plants, animals, and organic materials practically begging you to create the basis for society with.
Ultimately, you'll run into some difficult decisions during the game, and those are what make One Hour One Life such a harrowing title. It's not dying of starvation in the middle of the woods or never surviving past your childhood. It's having to decide, if you make it that far, whether your child should be wolf food or if you have enough resources to feed them and let them live to see old age (keeping in mind it's another player). It's having to figure out if you're going to be patient enough to respect a village's rules that were established long before you came around, or if you're going to grief others and cause havoc during your entire time in-game.
The game itself is absolutely genius, with intriguing mechanics and survival elements that work together to make a functioning "society" full of real-life players, with those who are content to cause problems and others who just want to make it past their teens. Unfortunately, there are some particularly frustrating control elements when it comes to the touch controls, many of which have revolved around off-target taps and inaccurate swipes. Combining items with the crafting system can be a turnoff at first, because it simply feels like, at times, it isn't working with you. Luckily, as you make additional attempts, it begins to feel a bit easier.
The game is actually based on a PC title by Jason Rohrer of the same name, and its mobile adaptation plays beautifully, just as mercilessly as the original, despite some touchy controls that could be worked out in a future update. Overall, however, it’s an intriguing social experiment disguised as a survival game that’ll really bring out some folks’ true colors.
If you've ever found yourself ruminating on the futility of life, this is certainly a game that'll drive that point home even further. Prepare to have your spirits lifted in one minute, and then utterly destroyed in the next. Such is the nature of life.
Reviewer’s Note: Following a lengthy amount of time spent playing OHOL for the review, I randomly became unable to access the game via servers on my iPhone X. The game was tested across multiple iOS devices, but I have since been unable to log into One Hour One Life, nor am I able to press the greyed-out "Start" button. I am continuing to pursue a way into the game and will likely be testing the game out on an Android device to discern what the problem could be. Since this doesn’t seem to be a widespread issue, we decided that it shouldn’t affect the review or the score for now.