Imagine it, you’re working in an office one late night. There is a storm outside, rain on the windows, everyone is gone but you. You stroll out to get some coffee to make it through the night, and when you come back there is a note on your computer screen. I see you. You my friend are being watched and stalked in this short first person experienced. The man named Robert in the office next to yours disappeared a few weeks ago. He just stopped coming to work and now his office is the only locked room. From there, things only get supernaturally stranger. Chairs move if not fly. Cabinets fling open, a creepy red balloon appears and yes there is a grand unholy crechendo at the end.
Right off the bat, the game does a good job of setting an atmosphere with dark ambient lighting and somber tone with piano music and sound cues. The sound cues draw you in and creepy things happen. A copier is printing out messages to you and your heart beats faster and faster to let you know where to go. It does have its jump scare moments, but its not that sort of one trick pony. I found it relies on suspense and dread. The heart beats faster, so you know that something might happen, but is your heart beating faster because something bad will happen or is it beating faster because you’re close to finding an item to progress the plot?
One Late Night feels like a scavenger hunt in an office with maybe 10 rooms, a bathroom, a break room, a conference room, the boss’s room, a janitor’s closet and five private offices. There’s not much ground to cover, but movement is at a snail’s pace. You have a dash key, but your character quickly runs out of steam within mere seconds. Who would run in an office anyway? You’re a tech company, try to act professional. You’ll be visiting all of these rooms often and frequently, because its a scavenger hunt. There’s a locked office, time to find the key. Even if you’ve searched every inch of the office, One Late Night decides when to spawn the key for you to find it.
Maybe its all supernatural, but I didn’t appreciate having to check every square inch of the office over and over again. Not only that, but finding black batteries in dark crevasse you didn’t know were crevasse was hardly fun. Think about having to find a black object in the darkness. I couldn’t even find the black flashlight in a dark drawer I was staring straight into. There is no brightness adjustment in the game. Luckily a yellow outline appears over the objects you can interact with such as doors and story items.
I did manage to find an exploit though, when you start the game, you have an options menu to adjust the graphics quality to fastest. The fastest quality strips away all shadow making the office a bright place. Even then, its still a chore to scour every room. Sometimes notes will spawn to help you along your way, but viewing the notes is pretty cumbersome. You need to examine it in front of your face, when you can just read the note without examining it. There’s a giant white board with text scrawled on it, but when I click on that, it didn’t lift up the white board to take a closer look. No it was just there.
The controls are simple, but difficult for me, since I use the mouse with my left hand. The game uses WSAD keys to move around, which is traditional. I just couldn’t rebind them to make it easier for me. You can mouse click on things to open doors, pick up phones and examine things. Then hit the space bar to put them back. There is a way to click on a desk top to hide under a desk, but I never used it after my first test. There’s no real danger here. In fact I could walk through the biggest threat.
The office in the game feels like its star. As if its a tech demo for the Unity3D engine. Its a beautiful place. Glass panes for the conference room. Stools next to a table that has a bowl of fruit on it. Even a fully stocked kitchen with knock off products. There are little details here and there that make it feel real and believable. Two rooms have lamps you can turn on, but even the darkest of rooms didn’t have light switches on the walls. Like all first person experiences, there is no mirror in the bathroom, because we’re here to work, not look pretty. Speaking of work, no work gets done.
Since you’re in an office, to not break the immersion, you need to visit your work station to save. First you need to sit down in your chair, click on your monitor and then enter your user name followed by a password. Then type in save. Its just that simple. When you load a save, it resets the objects in the office. Open cabinets get closed, chairs that had pushed out are pushed back in. Other things are reset as well and it makes me feel like the game becomes out of order. One time I had seen something, I shouldn’t say what it was and that was followed by another something on three monitors. When I reloaded, I saw something on the three monitors then later I saw the thing that I can’t talk about. Is it a clown? Is it a plant waving hello? Am I lying to make you think there’s really something? Or is it a desk? You’ll have to play.
When you’re using the game’s in Linux system, you can gather hints and read vaguely about things. However, you’ll need to deal with Linux commands to find them. You’ll type in “cd folder_name” to get into new directories, but there didn’t seem to be any way to get back to the previous folder. Maybe I’m just unskilled with Linux, but there was a help command that explains everything, just not that.
All throughout the experience, the game drops you hints of what is stalking you. Is it a person? Is it a ghost? Are you paranoid? Perhaps you murdered everyone and that’s why you’re alone. I think a lot of this experience hinges on me not spoiling the story even if I probably have already. There are warnings everywhere and two endings.
I did find a few bugs and issues here. Nothing too bad, just noticeable things that I might not have noticed if I wasn’t busy staring at them for two hours. The first is that your character’s hand clips through objects. Not a big deal, but clickable objects would highlight themselves through walls. I could see the water cooler through the wall and click on it to hear the bubbles. The options menu can only be accessed when you start the game and sometimes the resolution changes to the default giant resolution. I found it happens more if I use the same settings it resets to default. None of those are big issues, I think the biggest issue was having to look for black objects in dark spaces.
If you like suspense, dread and fright, you’ll find them here. For me, the feelings wore off when the game just became a scavenger hunt. It just became another task. I even had to consult the developer’s video walk through a few times when I had exhausted certain places to look only to discover them in a place I had just extensively searched three times. I’m fine with scavenger hunts, as long as I can see what I’m looking for. It would be different if I could physically touch and feel around in the darkness, but until PC gaming gets to that stage, I can’t.