Despite lasting only about ten minutes, One Chance is one of the most depressing, yet remarkable gaming experiences in recent memory.
In One Chance, you play the role of a scientist named John. You and your team have recently made a major breakthrough in science – you’ve developed a cure for cancer. However, it is soon discovered that, in fact, the “cure” is deadly, and because of it, in as little as six days, “every living cell in the world will be dead.”
One Chance asks players an important, daunting and oft-repeated question, and offers a number of ways to answer it too – What would you do if you only had a few days left to live? Over the next six days, players will encounter a series of situations in which they must make a number of conflicting decisions.
With each passing day, the conditions grow worse and worse. The deadly consequences of what you’ve created are more than palpable in the environment around you. The newspaper you pick up outside your doorstep every morning details the continuous degeneration of mankind in an oddly candid manner, one that seems unsettling and completely out of place for a newspaper. One day, the paper stops coming, but by that point, it doesn’t even matter anymore – you walk around numb, too worn to notice.
Your wife is becoming increasingly distant, too defeated to even bother getting out of bed. Your only child, Molly, also resides at home, questioning why she doesn’t have to go to school. Meanwhile, your remaining coworkers and colleagues tell of a solution, something that might mend this whole situation, and request that you to join them at the lab.
Glimpses of the downtown area sees the frenetic crowds dissipating over the days, and eventually, the deadly pathogen leaves only abandoned cars and a silent ghost town in its wake.
The apple tree outside your house, once so brimming with life, browns and withers away, marking the passage of time as it submits to its fate, as many others have. As it slowly dies, your hopes fade along with it, and your remaining aspirations change as well, seeing and knowing that the end times are quickly coming.
“Will you spend time with your family, work on a cure or go nuts? You have one chance.” What do you do?
Initially, the cutesy retro-styled graphics seem to undermine the seriousness of the game’s premise. However, in a way, seeing these cartoon avatars affected by the depravity of a situation gone terribly awry somehow makes the situation seem even more explicit and disturbing than it might be if it were live action.
The simple controls and game mechanics allow for anyone to “enjoy” playing the game. However, one particular choice made by the developer makes the experience of playing One Chance a lasting one. Unlike most ‘traditional’ games, where players are implored to try again and again in order to “win” – One Chance gives players, as the game’s title implies, only one chance to play the game.
This limitation adds a measure of permanence to every action you perform and every decision you make as you craft your own personal ending to this story. Attempts at playing the game again take you right back to where you left off, reminding you again of everything that had led up to this point. You may never really know “what could have been” if you had done something differently – not unlike life itself.
If you have a few spare minutes, click here to play.
You had one chance. How did you spend your last moments on Earth?