Game: One Hour One Life
System: iOS and Android
Developer: Jason Rohrer/ Dual Decade
Age Rating: 9+ (UK & EU) | 9+ (US)
Price: £4.99 | €5,49 | $5.99
Release Date: August 2018
(The game is also available on PC)
Overall Feeling: I Like it a Lot!
Review code kindly provided by Werewiz.
One Hour One Life for mobile is an adaptation of the desktop game that was developed and published by Jason Rohrer. The idea behind the game is special: you play just one small part in a much larger story. You live one hour, but time in this game is infinite, as long as the servers are running!
Finding game fever
This is unfortunate. Do you know the feeling when you want to keep up playing a game in a feverish way? When you want to read all there is to read about a game? Know all there is to know? And just like that, very unexpected, I have found such a game.
The idea behind the game is so special. You only live for 60 years, or 60 minutes in real life. And in that time, you can only contribute a part in what will be the story of your family. And as you have to build up your existence from the very start, you won’t see it to completion. That requires something of the way you play and the way you interact with players you don’t even know.
One Hour One Life is a game that has been available on the PC since the beginning of 2018. Not on Steam, a conscious choice by developer Jason Rohrer, but straight on your PC. Jason describes in his blog ( find it here ) why he decided not to go for Steam. And now recently, in August 2018, the game has been adapted to appear on mobile as well, on iOS and Android.
So why is this unfortunate?
I started off by saying that it was unfortunate that I found gaming fever for One Hour One Life. Why is this unfortunate do you ask? The way the game is designed means that you have to keep playing for one hour straight, otherwise you’ll starve to death or meet another awful fate. And I find that difficult.
60 minutes of constant attention. Can you manage that? If you are a mom like I am, I hardly ever have time to be glued to the screen for one hour without distractions. There’s always someone asking me where this is or that. The dryer is ready, the kettle is boiling. The dog wants attention. You get the picture. That’s exactly why I play my games handheld! And even though One Hour One Life is on mobile still means you can’t look away for a bit.
There’s no pause button. Which makes perfect sense when you think about it. As this is an MMO game, other players are in the game with you. It wouldn’t work to pause them too. Hunger is a constant battle that requires a lot of attention, so just standing still won’t work either. You’d be starving pretty soon.
Having babies and trying not to starve
The games graphics are fairly basic. When a child first draws a human, this is the drawing it makes. But don’t mistake the simple drawings as being for a simple game. The gameplay is very well thought out and challenges you think ahead for future generations.
Starting a new game you get to choose a server. Depending on the number of players already in a world might help you decide which to choose. Another criterium can be the No-Killing tag: in some worlds you can’t kill each other. Which I applaud: as you never know who is on the other side, you can’t predict what the other person considers fun. I found out the negative way: my family tree was underway, I had died of old age. My son and daughter were obviously experts and doing the right things.
Checking back in on my tree I was appalled to see that my daughter had been killed by my son! Talk about a temper!
Being born can mean a couple of things: you come to life as a 15 year old girl and start a new family tree. Or you are born as a baby, and you can be a boy or a girl. Babies can’t eat for themselves, and they are totally dependent on the mothers who are already in the game to feed them. For four minutes, until the baby turns four, you can’t do anything nor can you survive.
This also means that when you start the family tree as a 15 year old girl, babies are born in your game. And it’s your job to keep them alive, which can be iffy. After all, you have to keep up your own strength too. That is the strength of the MMO part of One Hour One Life. When you encounter players who are unwilling to help, you have bad luck. I had it happen: I was born in an established community a boy, only to be left to starve. The other players texted: “no more boys! Come back as a girl”. Very frustrating, somehow I do feel for the little pixel babes!
Establishing a community
Coming to live you in the world, you have a hunger gauge. If you are a baby the gauge is short, only four boxes and that grows with every year you get older. As an adult you have 20 squares, but food will still be a number one priority. Sometimes you come to life in the wilderness, and you have to get everything going by yourself. Having children who help will be nice. If you have daughters it ensures the family tree doesn’t stop with you.
At times your crib is on an already established community, one that someone else has been working hard on. The community can be in several biomes, like a yellow prairie, gray blue swamps or green grass biomes. Each has its own food and resources. The first thing to do when you find yourself starting from square one is to make a sharp stone. You will need that to find food.
The game has a recipe book on the bottom left side. For every item you pick up, it will show you how combining it with another item will craft new items. You start out small with the stone, but crafting gets you further. It’s all really well thought out, and makes sense too. My only problem is that I feel the pressure of eating food, and I find I can’t take the time in game to study the recipes.
If all of this seems to be a bit overwhelming, the game lets you do a tutorial first. It teaches you about the things I described here, and also shows you how to pick up things, how to put them down etc.
What I love in the game is that you can see the family tree you were at the head of, or that you were a part of. And even some time after you have passed on, you can still check on your tree. It gave me a kick to see my granddaughter still alive half an hour after I’d died!
I started out this review by describing the gaming fever that took me while playing this game. That is a sure sign that I have found a game I really, really love. I like the concept and the idea behind it. I love the crafting, the exploring and the idea of a family tree.
However, the drawback of not being able to pause really gets on my nerve. It means I hardly every find the time to sit down and play. Because, if I start a game I want to keep it going until I die of old age, so 60 minutes.
In my perfect world, I would be very happy if I could play this game offline, with AI players in my world. Being born over and over in my own family. Playing in endless mode and concentrating on the crating so I could really bring my family into modern age.
I almost gave it the top score of Two Thumbs Up. But for now, taking the drawback into account, I’m giving the game an I Like it a Lot.