What if death in video games meant something? What if you only had one life and to lose it meant you could no longer play that game? How would that affect your decisions? How would that change your style of play? These are all questions that the new iPhone game, One Single Life seeks to answer.
“In late 2009,” claims Lead Designer Anthony Dempsey, “I found myself pondering why I rarely felt genuine emotions like fear or anxiety in games. Then it struck me. The reason I was never truly afraid of that ‘perilous’ jump in an otherwise thrilling adventure game was that deep down, I knew the worst possible consequence was having to start the level over or be returned to the nearest checkpoint.
“The rules of the game told me ‘Failure is just a speed bump’ and sub-consciously I relaxed just a little. That got me thinking… What if there was a game with literally only one life? Where every action was meaningful and the consequences real? A game where the real skill was not in learning the controls but in being able to overcome one’s own fears and doubts when the moment of truth arrived.
“Like the pro footballer walking to the penalty spot in the World Cup Final, agonising over exactly the same question, I wanted to make a game which asks, ‘do I have what it takes when it matters most?'”
The game is available on the App Store now and is free. We asked Anthony what the rationale behind making the game free was.
“My hope has always been that as many players as possible would get a chance to experience this thrill,” claims Anthony. “However because of the subject matter (Permadeath) we risked turning a percentage of players away if they stood to lose their money immediately and the only real solution – if I was genuine about taking it to the masses – was to make the game free.”
It almost reminds me of the type of fear I felt after slotting my lunch money into Golden Axe in the arcade. You’ve paid your money. When the game ends it’s all over, and the consequences of that are important to an eight year old with extremely limited pocket money.
In some strange way I almost feel like the fact the game is free somehow removes some of the danger from the game, but I’m keen to try it regardless. What about you guys?