After a night of partying at some small house, you wake up to find yourself in a lavish bedroom. Its a beautiful room with a few remnants of the party left over. There’s an out of place poster on the wall of an Anime girl with pink looking out for you, reaching out to you. That’s only the first of many strange things you’ll go through.
From there, you open the door beside the poster and enter a dark room with a sparkling crystal blue sphere that leads you through a maze, lighting up black walls with a blue hue. At the end of the brief maze, there’s what looks like a doorway. You ram the door over and over again until the door falls off the hinges and you tumble through to the next room. When you stand up, you realize its not a door, but someone had used an expensive bassinet to keep you in and you have just toppled it.
There you are, standing in a gorgeous office with fancy chairs, a sofa, wood trim, plants and several cherry wood shelves. Outside the window there’s nothing but clouds and a blue sky. There’s no ground. Does this mean you’re dreaming or does it mean that you’re in some sort of purgatory.
That’s when you hear a voice yelling at you, “Get outta my house before I call the cops!” You’re disoriented and have no idea what’s going on. The voice commands you to look into a mirror, but there’s no mirror. After another minute there’s a mirror miraculously on an unseen wall that was just vacant.
The voice orders you to look at a clock, because he tells you that you have just one minute to find a key and get out of the room. The clock has no hands on its face and its only a distraction from the real matter at hand. Finding the key. You look around the room, there’s no key. Soon you start hearing what sounds like a plane in the distance, the sound of the plane keeps getting louder and louder. You begin to realize even if you find the key, there’s no door to use it on!
The plane sounds almost on top of the room. Thick black smoke begins to fill the room. Then when you’ve given up all hope, you find the key hidden where you’d last think to look for it. Now you need to find the door that doesn’t exist, but now that you’ve found the key, the door has appeared. Before the black smoke engulfs you, you run to the door, and leave the room into yet another amazing room inside what’s sure to be a mansion.
There is a chessboard on a coffee table and a small radio on a couch. The voice comes over the radio again, telling you to make a choice. Select a pawn, the white pawn will sacrifice yourself and the white pawn will sacrifice Samantha Graves. This lunatic has forced you to chose. One will lead you down one path, the other down another.
The choice is up to you, but lets say you pick the black pawn and complete the fiendish puzzle. There doesn’t seem to be any time limit until you’ve finished. That’s when you’re rewarded with a key that the voice crassly tells you is the size of your genitalia. Smoke begins to fill the room and you hustle to the door, but that’s when you’re hit from behind and fall to the floor.
When you wake up, you’re in a crate or a casket. You can hear two voices talking outside as they drag you along to your doom. They’re going to drown you in a lake, dynamite something to bury you under rocks. The game is over now, they’re just going to kill you. As the casket begins to fill with water, you see rocks smash through, allowing for your escape into a beautiful woodland in the autumn season. The trees are tall, red and orange. Almost beautiful, if most of them weren’t on fire from the dynamite they have used to destroy a windmill.
You belly crawl your way to safety through burning grass and stand up once the coast is clear. There is no safety, that’s when the smoke starts to fill even the outdoor area. You’re constantly forced to struggle for any air to breathe before the smoke overtakes you over and over again.
That’s where I’ll end this story. Only If is a first person experience that I can best describe as a puzzle game or a scavenger hunt. Its less of a scavenger hunt trying to find things than its a scavenger hunt on what to do. The lunatic commands you when you’re in the house, its just a struggle to know exactly what he wants from you. Like “give me something sweet!” So you scour the room looking for candy or even a bottle of honey maybe. There’s something on the wall that gives you a clue, type as you would IRL. Well that’s because you’re supposed to type the word honey.
Only If is full of things like that and it makes the experience pretty painful and excessively long. Then during the forest fire, you need to go through the black smoke all while rapidly tapping the E button. Over and over again. its easy to die from the smoke, but every failure will respawn you at the start of each section. The only punishment is time wasted over and over again, trying to figure out what to do, until you’re lucky enough to do it. I feel like I would have enjoyed the experience more if it wasn’t as cryptic.
It also feels poorly programmed. Since it uses the Unity engine you can setup the key and game pad bindings before you play, but alas, they don’t actually do anything to change the controls. So you’re stuck with WSAD for movement. You have a laughably small jump (until the end), a run, crouch and use buttons.
There are of course more traditional features that a game would have. You will get a gun to shoot some emerald pots and have to jump around on a few platforms before you reach the finish.
It looks beautiful and there’s some good lighting, even if the textures don’t hold up to close scrutiny. There’s a lot of banter between your character and the antagonist along with Samantha Graves. Everyone’s character is believable and admirably portrayed, but the real problem is either the sound quality or microphone quality. Its just bad. Sometimes its inaudible, even standing next to the radio, other times its extremely loud and will shatter eardrums when the lunatic starts yelling at you.
The antagonist knows he can do anything. Make keys appear out of thin air and it plays into the experience a bit, “Here let me blow your mind Anthony! Truckin’ Boom!” Then *poof* a key magically appears on the couch. Only If starts getting into the fact that anything can happen, such as starting to slowly tilt a room while black smoke tries to swallow you. Your character handles everything pretty believably and that’s disbelieving a lot of what’s happening. Especially when compared to the voice that’s trying to antagonize him.
The villain’s personality is probably the most unedited character I’ve ever heard in video game history if not all media. You’ll never see him or any of the characters, including yourself, even when you’re forced to look into a mirror, you’re just not there.
There were a few errors and glitches here and there, like walking through objects and even falling through a wall out of the house and plummeting forever. You can’t save the game so much as you get a one word password, to return where you were. Its an interesting system.
In conclusion, I just wish that I found more fun or entertainment from Only If. It radically strays from the formula, and some might like how far out of the box you need to think, but I just wanted something more traditional. All the quick deaths felt cheap and it doesn’t get cheaper than a free experience.