In recent years, a new video game genre has emerged called the “Walking Simulator.” To some, these games are amazing, breathtaking works of art, but to others they’re so divorced from what a video game is like that they shouldn’t even be called games in the first place.
Enter Only If, a game which not only simulates the experience of putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly, it also has puzzles challenging enough for even the most adamant of fans to wrap their brain around, horror elements reminiscent of Amnesia, and a shooting gallery. You can also download it for free.
You play as Anthony Clyde, a young man who wakes up alone in a strange bed after a night of partying. While many games with a first person perspective leave the main character as a boring non-character so the player can easily self-insert themselves into the role of the hero, Anthony feels very much like his own person with his own feelings and emotions.
A great part of this is due to the top notch voice acting by the game’s cast. This is especially important for the game’s villain, who we never see beyond the radio he uses to communicate with. He has a very commanding presence throughout the game as he does everything he can to hinder Anthony’s progression. And since he is never seen at any point during the game, it gives him an air of mystery not unlike that of the villain in some horror titles.
The lack of any physical human characters to be seen brings an interesting twist to the way the game tells its story. Most of the dialog is delivered through radio, with the occasional overheard conversation. This makes the game feel like a movie unfolding right in front of you. The downside to this is that there isn’t much to actually do while anyone’s talking, and that’s when the game isn’t playing a scripted cutscene.
The in-game locations Anthony visits are as wondrous as they are varied, like the peaceful Autumn park and the heavenly pillars floating above the abyss, the spooky abandoned house our villain seems to be using as a hideout and the surreal void where slot machines and fancy doors appear out of nowhere. Where the unity engine falls short in terms of graphical power, the developers have compensated by creating a visual aesthetic unlike any I have ever seen in a game. Though there were a couple areas where the framerate lagged a bit.
While the puzzles themselves start off fairly simple, they quickly get harder as the game goes on. In some ways this makes the game more interesting, but a few of the puzzles were somewhat obtuse. There’s one that isn’t going to make sense to anyone who doesn’t have at least a passing knowledge of the movie Inception. I’ll admit that I had to seek the help of a strategy guide more than once while playing.
As for the shooting mechanics which I mentioned before, they really could have been better. Your only targets are small stationary objects, which take almost no skill to hit. The one puzzle that actually uses the gun even the most novice of puzzle fans will be able to trudge through given enough patience to shoot every last vase in the room.
The game took me a little over two hours to play all the way through, about average length compared to other titles like it. If you’re a fan of “art house” games then this is one you shouldn’t miss. For everyone else, it’s at least worth checking out as a free game.
The game can be downloaded on Steam here.
Fans of “art house” games shouldn’t miss this, and for everyone else, it’s at least worth checking out as a free game.