This title is exclusive to PC and was reviewed as such.
Survival games and games with survival elements shoe-horned in are now a dime a dozen in today’s gaming climate, whether it be Don’t Starve, Rust or even the recent Fallout 76. Some are more well received than others, especially ones that go for a more unique and creative take like the aforementioned Don’t Starve. The developers of One Hour One Life seem to have known this, as their interpretation of the survival game genre has some very unique twists within. How does this game fare in an oversaturated genre?
The graphics here are very charming, looking as though they were drawn in by hand. They seem to have been drawn with love and care too, as they are very well done, with some solid shading and design. There’s also some good visual variety, as hot desert environments, freezing environments and regular forest environments all look unique. All in all, some very good visuals here.
If you’ve played a survival game in the vein of Don’t Starve, you’ll be at home here. You get placed into a wide world, and you have to survive by maintaining your body, keeping your temperature regulated with clothing, keeping fed and crafting tools and items to help in your survival. In this way it is pretty typical, but One Hour One Life does a hell of a lot more to be unique.
One of the most unique aspects of One Hour One Life is in the title: you have one hour to live. You live an entire life cycle in an hour, from birth to death. The game is also completely online, and the blending of these two elements that makes this game click. You are ‘born’ to 2 other players in the game world, and for the first few minutes they raise you, keeping you fed and warm before they release you into the wild to fend for yourself. My first go with this was not very successful. I was born and named ‘Obsidian’, but the game named me ‘Obrian’ for some reason, which also confused my mother. However, she let me out into the wild a minute too early, and I was too young to even pick gooseberries from a bush, and I ended up starving to death at the age of two.
The life cycle aspect of the game is surprisingly well done, as your abilities grow and expand as you age. When you’re born you can’t pick berries or fend for yourself as mentioned above, but you also can only speak one letter at a time in the text. As you grow, you take longer to starve, you can speak longer sentences, and you can perform more tasks like crafting. The game’s main aim is a different take on the ‘survive’ element this game’s mechanics would have you think. Instead of simply surviving as long as possible, it instead has you try and make your mark on the society you’re born into, crafting useful buildings and items and of course having children. It’s a very interesting element, and there is some satisfaction to building a family and letting them off into the wild, but there’s very little payoff beyond that. When you croak after an hour, that’s it, you don’t see the fruits of your labours, and instead are born to another family in another server, which is a shame. There’s also the inherent repetition that comes from constantly dying and respawning back to square one, and I did get a little bored with having to be reborn and have to grow up over and over, but that’s a minor problem.
The game’s sound is simple, but it does the job. Sound effects for things like crafting and dropping/picking up items aren’t very impressive, but some sound effects like those of the rattle snakes are well done. The music is solid, setting up the atmosphere perfectly. It also changes depending on your condition, getting a bit more urgent and sinister as you get close to starving to death, which is a nice touch.
One Hour One Life is a solid and interesting title. It takes the familiar survival gameplay that you’ve seen in things like Don’t Starve, but adds a very well done life cycle mechanic. The whole idea of living through an entire life of a character is interesting and done well. However, living through multiple life cycles can get a bit repetitive, and the fact that you can’t see the fruits of your labour upon death is a bit of a bummer. But there is some satisfaction in making your mark on the society you were born into. Overall, this is a unique and enjoyable game that I urge you to try out.