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One Chance (PC) artwork

One Chance (PC) review

"One Chance is a bad game for obvious reasons. The graphics are poor, the music is repetitive, the guy walks slowly, the story is silly, player interaction is minimal, and victory is achieved through repetition instead of mastery. Its claim to fame is that you only have one chance unless you game the system."

"The experience is emotional. Thatís something Iíve never seen or heard of in a game."
-- Jimmy King

"[One Chance] split the vote neatly between those who admired it for being built first and foremost around emotional clout and those who loathed it for being based first and foremost around emotional clout."
-- Alec Meer

"...beyond the visceral emotional impact it had on me I have little else to say about it. Because the game only gives you one chance to play it makes it difficult to evaluate as a work or cultural artifact."
-- Eric Swain

An enraged man comes at you with a knife. Press the space bar to defend. Otherwise, die.


I didn't quote the above three bloggers to make them look foolish (although they do) -- I quoted them to show you that some people in this world really do think this silly Flash game is "something never seen before", "emotional", and "a cultural artifact".

You want to know what was never seen before? Grand Theft Auto III.

You want to know what's emotional? The challenging, heart-pounding boss battles from Ys: The Oath in Felghana.

You want to know what's a cultural artifact? Devil May Cry.

Was One Chance trying to directly compete with any of those games? Of course not . . . but when people ignore the history of gaming and make hyperbolic statements, absurd comparisons pop up. Unfortunately, these bloggers believe their hype. They believe that mass-market videogames aren't emotional or inventive. They spread their nonsense to a public that thrives on hype, and they whisper their serpentine words into the ears of developers at every opportunity. They encourage companies to "learn" from bad games by imitating them. As someone who enjoys videogames and wants to see them get even better, that's a crime.

Final Fight is a great videogame. Let's talk about One Chance.

It's a six-level game in which you walk from left to right. You cannot jump or express emotions via punches and piledrivers, but you get to make a decision by either pressing the space bar or not pressing it. This happens up to twice per level and influences the story. According to that story, you created the cure for cancer. This is a happy thing. On level two (day two), your cure is revealed to actually be a horrible cell-killing concoction that will destroy all life on Earth. This is a sad thing.

Day one:
Celebrate curing cancer, or work. If you don't work, you eventually lose.

Day two:
No choices. The enormity of your scientific blunder is symbolized by a newspaper article and by a dark-skinned figure intentionally falling off the edge of a rooftop. This is an homage to the cinematic tradition of always killing the black man first.

Day three:
Go home and have sex with your wife, or work. If you don't work, you eventually lose.

Day four:
Stay home, have sex with a coworker, or work. If you don't work, you eventually lose.

Day five:
The events of this day vary depending on previous actions. It still boils down to "work" or "don't work". If you don't work, you eventually lose.

Day six:
Work, or don't. If you don't work, you lose.

The game then ends, but it doesn't return to the title screen -- it just leaves you staring at the final image. You can never play again, because that's what One Chance means: you have one chance to play . . . unless you mess with the Flash player's default settings. Most endings result in your quiet death. A couple result in your violent death. And in the best ending, you manage to save yourself and your daughter as the rest of the world dies.

The "good" ending is meant to be sweet and touching, although it implies your daughter is condemned to an incestuous future as a baby-making machine. The "bad" endings are meant to make you reflect on what you could have done differently with your one chance.

One Chance's answer is "work hard every day". I understand that someone faced with the destruction of all life should strive to find a cure. Preservation of the species is pretty damn important. Hell, if I knew the world were ending, I wouldn't even go home to sleep. For some reason, One Chance's protagonist returns home every night after work. But forget that. To "win" the game, you have to work every single day, even on that very first day when you think you've successfully cured cancer. So the game is really teaching us to be good little sheep and never do anything fun for ourselves. One Chance thinks we should keep repeating the same routine over and over and over again, without ever taking time off to expand our minds by experiencing life.

This is Pia Carrot.  Although much older, it looks nicer than One Chance.Cocktail Soft's ancient hentai game Welcome to Pia Carrot!! requires the player to not only make choices throughout each day, but also to strategically select tasks to improve themselves. Conversations are far more elaborate than One Chance's simple "You wanna get out of here? YES/NO" exchanges, and players are sometimes rewarded for actually having fun. People who seek "emotion" from their games will find a lot more relevance from Pia Carrot's divergent tales of love than from One Chance's idiotic tale of players inventing a cancer cure that ACCIDENTALLY KILLS EVERYONE.

I can't relate to stupidity like this.

Longtime HonestGamers readers won't be surprised, but if you're flabbergasted that I dared praise a hentai game, consider this: Pia Carrot and One Chance both contain sex scenes. Pia Carrot does them better.

One Chance is a bad game for obvious reasons. The graphics are poor, the music is repetitive, the guy walks slowly, the story is silly, player interaction is minimal, and victory is achieved through repetition instead of mastery. Its claim to fame is that you only have one chance unless you game the system.

1986's excellent and highly-interactive Starflight was like that too, unless you were smart enough to make backups of your floppy disks. Thank goodness games don't do that anymore.


zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (February 26, 2011)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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If you enjoyed this One Chance review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 26, 2011:

You did a great job of making this game sound over-inflated. I was going to play it to experience the awfulness, but I think reading the review was enough. Count me out.
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WilltheGreat posted February 26, 2011:

I'm noticing a theme with your recent reviews. And I like it.
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overdrive posted February 26, 2011:

I played this game a couple times and agree with your review. It's a neat concept and all, but completely underutilized to becoming, as you said, a "work all the time or everyone dies...even though working all the time only seems to save two people" game that also runs at a slow pace.

Not entertaining. Of trifling diversion games, I'd pick Lucky Tower over it 7 days out of 7, even if its only real hook is "walk in every room to see how you die". At least a good number of deaths are worth a chuckle.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 27, 2011:

Yeah, probably not. It's not like it'll cost me anything. Maybe I will try one day.
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darketernal posted February 27, 2011:

The best part is that you can just check some option in how your flash settings work and you can play the game as often as you like.

Still a an over rated game that will garner to the douchy demographic.
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zigfried posted February 27, 2011:

Yeah, but I didn't bring the Flash setting thing up as a flaw because we can play most any game "the wrong way" and intentionally ruin the experience for ourselves.

The difference with One Chance is that it would have actually been better if you were meant to replay it. Not a lot better, but a little. The creator's concept was screwed up from the start, and videogames with poor concepts deserve to be called out and criticized for having poor concepts.

Actually it's more than "deserve" to be criticized, the noble reviewer will criticize.

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radicaldreamer posted February 28, 2011:

I like this review a lot. You have a snack knack for making it difficult to imagine any other take on this game making sense.
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Ninjamohawk posted March 01, 2011:

Great review. I felt very cheated and insulted after playing that game.
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zippdementia posted March 02, 2011:

The score could probably be debated, but on the other hand I am quickly coming to the belief that a game is either a 10: go fucking play it or a 1: don't bother. And One Chance falls into the latter category for sure.

It reminds me of way back when, when I reviewed Linger in Shadows, which was essentially an unfinished demo reel you had to pay to check out (genius marketing, that). When I bashed it as such, a bunch of my friends got pissed off, saying that I didn't get it and that the artistic value of the game outweighed the fact that it wasn't a game and didn't have any clear idea of what it was trying to say (like One Chance).

The moral of the story is: choose better friends. Oh, and read Zig's reviews.

My one complaint about this review is that you don't mention that people think slapping ambient emo music over something makes it deep.
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zigfried posted March 02, 2011:

It sounds like you've realized that the real commodity in life is time. Hence the "go play it" versus "don't bother" distinction, with nothing in between. That's a player's mentality.

For reviewers, the value in assigning numerical scores is that it encourages us to think about how a game compares to others, and to what degree it's better or worse than others (ie, a score system encourages us to write as critics instead of players). It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to thoroughly critique a game if all the website asks for is a straightforward "buy" or "don't buy" judgement at the end. So really, the ideal scale would go from 1 to 50,000 or so, but ten will have to do!

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jerec posted March 02, 2011:

Yeah, I feel it'd be more effective to rate a game 43,928/50,000. It really separates the game from something I'd rate 43,929/50,000.
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zigfried posted March 02, 2011:

From the writer's perspective, that would be more effective. The decision between 43,927 and 43,929 would be a tough decision to make -- and tough decisions encourage more thorough evaluation (unless the pressure is just too much to handle). I'm assuming here that some game already occupies the 43,928 spot and the writer is trying to decide if something is better or worse than that. If we're just picking arbitrary huge numbers for each new review, that would be dumb and pointless.

Obviously, readers would just laugh at such scores no matter what kind of reasoning went into them. That would make it all worthwhile.

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kingamers posted June 08, 2012:

Wow. Sounds horrible. Never heard of the game and definitely won't be playing it! Thanks for the review :)

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Roto13 posted June 10, 2012:

My favourite thing about this game was the awful writing. It pretty much read like what a child thinks a dramatic adult movie sounds like. The spelling errors don't help.

This game is basically what happens when a 12-year-old boy has an idea for a game, but instead of planning the whole thing out in a notebook to make "someday," he learns how to make crude flash games. It's almost admirable.
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zippdementia posted August 17, 2012:

Did Starflight really not let you start over your game after it ended? How did that work?
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JoeTheDestroyer posted August 17, 2012:

IIRC, it did something to the boot disks that locked them. Of course if you made spare boot disks, you could avoid that.
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zigfried posted August 18, 2012:

If you recall the hype around the Nintendo 64 DD, a lot of it was based around the ability to save lots of data so that you could have truly interactive sandbox worlds that "remembered" everything you had done in the past.

Starflight accomplished the same thing 10 years earlier by actually over-writing game code as you explored the universe. This was necessary because there was so much stuff that needed to be saved (even down to the exact location of minerals on each planet... since you could mine hundreds of planets, they had to find some way to prevent players from re-mining planets they had already scoured).

The flipside was that if you died, you were dead. Hope you made backups of your disks!

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zippdementia posted August 18, 2012:

That's crazy. It's both an excellent idea and a terrible reality! Especially if you die, like, right away. I was looking at your Starflight review for mention of it, but you didn't choose to explain it there, which is why I asked. Sounds like it's an awesome game, regardless.

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