Sometimes, the world gets pretty dark. I’ve dreamed of leaving everything behind and moving to a deserted island or Northern wilderness cabin. World of One takes it a step further by putting our moody protagonist on his very own world.
World of One is a dark, brooding puzzle-platformer by the indie developers, Grimwood Team. You play a troubled man, living in his own dreary, private world. Each level exists on its own planet, and unlike many traditional platformers, the protagonist can explore them in either direction. Often, you’ll find that you are picking up a piece of the puzzle only to run back in the opposite direction to solve it.
The World of One monster artwork is incredible, and I love the gurgling sounds they make as they amble across the planet. The developers made monster combat challenging but not frustrating. Early on in the game, you wield a very slow shovel as a weapon, and you’ll die with just one attack from a monster. You can attack with your shovel two different ways. You can either make a quick, horizontal jab or a slow uppercut. Try to attack one type of monster with the jab, and you’ll be dead in a heartbeat. Use the uppercut on him, and you’ll be fine. A taller, swifter monster is too fast for the uppercut attacks. These two monsters are often combined in the same area, creating an interesting challenge.You must pull them away from each other and use their respective attacks on them separately. Otherwise, you’ll definitely die.
In fact, you’ll die a lot in this game. There are several Steam achievements awarded for not dying. According to Steam, no one has yet beaten the game without dying more than seven times. Usually, constant dying in platformers gets frustrating for me very quickly. There are enough checkpoints in World of One that I did not throw a single fit for dying. I cussed a lot. I died 170+ times. But I always immediately hopped right back into the action. I never had to backtrack to the point that it wasn’t fun for me.
The are three chapters in World of One. Each ends with a tough boss fight. The bosses are all massive, glorious beings. Fighting them made me feel the way I did beating old Zelda GameBoy bosses. The first few attempts at beating each boss were spent learning its patterns and methods of attack. Once the pattern was memorized, I’d die at least another 10-15 times before the boss was defeated. But the deaths in World of One have a quick turnaround time. I’d die, but I’d almost instantly respawn at the beginning of the level, not waiting for long loading times or cutscenes.
The developers obviously put a lot of time and effort into the small details. During one of the first levels, I encountered an abandoned theme park. After solving a quick puzzle, I boarded a moving Ferris wheel. As my passenger car reached its highest level, the carnival music died down. When I moved closer to the ground, it slowly picked back up until it was once again full volume. I went around the Ferris wheel a couple times, enjoying this little feature.
The World of One controls are straightforward and easy. No complicated menus or inventory systems. A controller is recommended, so I didn’t try to play with a keyboard at all. You move with the joystick. RB and RT are your two different attacks. The inventory never consists of more than three items.
Almost every level of the game features a telescope. When you find the telescope and interact with it, the camera zooms out to give you a view of the entire planet. These scenes are breathtaking. I couldn’t help but take a screenshot every time I peered through a telescope. I’ve been using the images as desktop wallpaper. I can’t get enough of them.
My only real complaint with World of One is how unnatural and awkward the animation of the protagonist seems to be. His hair doesn’t move when he does. His arms seem kind of robotic and stiff. The world around him moves with more fluidity. One common monster somersaults back and forth while attacking, but the protagonist just stands there. He slowly strikes the monster with a shovel, stiff-armed and inorganic.
I also wish the story would have been more clear. It seems like it might be a beautiful, tragic story, pulling heartstrings in the same way Pinstripe did earlier this year. I left the game feeling like I didn’t fully understand what had happened to the protagonist. We see glimpses of his memories throughout the game, but not enough to make us truly understand and empathize with him.
World of One sells for only $6.99 on Steam, and it provides many hours of challenging gameplay for the price. I enjoyed the attention-to-detail, stunning landscapes, and brooding theme of the game. It’s a creative, engaging release from a small indie development team, and I’m looking forward to what they will create next.
A PC review copy of World of One was provided by Grimwood Team for the purpose of this review