Play the game here.
Following my last post this week, This is the Only Level, here is another game where the rules are changed as you progress. This time, instead of the rule changes being ambiguous and difficult to figure out, the rule changes are explained and used to tell a story. The game starts with a quote from Aristotle: “Love is one soul in two bodies.” It then cuts to the first level with some text at the top of the screen. It says, “And there I was, moving thanks to the arrow keys.” You walk to the right, fall into a pit, and die. “I died when I fell,” the game says, “I don’t like dying. I tried again, pressing X or UP.” It sounds like a simple tutorial, telling the player that they should have jumped the first try. However, most players, myself included, will try jumping the first time. Nothing will happen. Only after dying once does the game allow you to jump. This little detail tells the player that the rules can change and that the player should be ready for them. After jumping the pit, the player is told that they are able to push boxes. After pushing the box and jumping onto a ledge, another character appears, this one a female. “There she was. I used Z or C to think of her.” Pushing either of these buttons changes the player’s control over to the girl. “She loved me…and I loved her. We always met there,” the game says as you move the girl over to where the boy is waiting. The level finishes when the two touch.
The next couple of levels all play similarly to this initial set of rules. The player uses the arrow keys to move, up to jump, and can switch characters with Z. The next level reminds us that falling from too high of a distance will kill you. The layout of this level, referred to as I.1, is used several times throughout this game. This level, as well as the next two, are solved relatively quickly and get the player used to some of the rules that will end up being permanent. After the third level in this chapter is complete, the chapter ends and the next chapter begins.
We are placed on the I.1 level, with a few modifications. The player no longer has control of the girl, even if you press Z or C. You can only control the boy. In fact, the girl will never move unless she can see the boy. When she does, she starts walking towards him. This was told to the player at the beginning of the chapter; “When she saw me, she ran to me.” This hint tells the player what changes he or she should expect in the coming levels. The basic rules are still the same: the player moves with arrow keys, jumps with up, you can’t fall too far, and you have to touch the girl to complete the level. The only thing that changed was how the girl is controlled. Again, once the player completes three levels, the chapter ends.
Yet again, we begin on the I.1 level. This time, the rule change is apparent the instant the player tries to move; the girl makes the same movements as you. You walk to the left, she walks to the left. You jump, she jumps. The text at the start of the chapter “Then we walked together”, represents the rule change. When two people walk together, they walk in the same direction at the same speed. This is represented by the characters in the game; both characters move in the same direction at the same speed. It also becomes apparent to the player that the I.1 level will most likely be used often to get the player accustomed to the rule change before giving them the harder puzzles. Yet again, there are only three levels before the next chapter begins.
Even just three chapters into the game, we’ve already seen the game change several times. Each time the rules change, it reflects what has just happened in the story. Also, the rule changes are noticeable, but small enough not to completely change the feel of the game. The basic goals stay the same; only the methods to get there change. This is pretty similar to This is the Only Level, except the gameplay isn’t to figure out what the rule change is, but rather, to use the given rule change to solve the puzzle. Halfway through One and One Story, we’ve seen that is is similar to This is the Only Level and that rules changes, if done correctly, can make a game more engaging.
Unfortunately, I had to break this post into two parts. I will try to get the second part up on Saturday.