The One We Found has been developed by Loveridge Designs and released not just in the Halloween season, but on the dreaded day itself.
A first-person survival horror mixed in with shooting mechanics, this mainly one-person developed title is a generic and uninspired game. However, there are elements which are praiseworthy – enough so that I hope the developer gets noticed by a triple-A development team so that he can contribute his talent into a bigger studio, and ultimately help create a more promising project.
You play as… someone? I honestly do not know the name of your character, nor do I particularly care since the story of this game is uninteresting, forgettable and frankly, hard to piece together. If you pick up the odd document and scraps of paper left on the floor and tables, you might be able to decipher a few threads of what might very well be a rather interesting story. Alas, I would not know since I was too focused on surviving and making it through the repetitive and frustrating level design.
You are exploring Whisperwood – a mental institution which houses, you guessed it, zombified ex-patients. Exploring the purposefully dark corridors using only your flashlight, you fight and solve your way to finding out ‘the truth’. A truth which again, bluntly, I do not care about. The constant reminder of the grammatical errors and spelling mistakes found within this game give off the impression that during development it did not go through a good QA test, if it went through one at all.
While I did find myself being scared when I played The One We Found, I do exist within the category of ‘the most easily scared people to ever exist’. Still, I found the horror aspects rather effective when the gameplay didn’t turn into a shooting gallery corridor where you’re fighting off waves of not very scary ex-patients.
The horror elements are simple yet effective. Darkness all around, patients around every corner, and invincible enemies which make your screen flash and an alarm sound whenever they spot you, all contribute to creating what was for me, some very unwelcoming but effective jump scares.
Crawling through vents in fear of meeting a plain looking monster still didn’t disenchant the enemy’s ability to make me exhale what can only be described as a grown man’s cry of fear, when I turn around inside a small vent only to see a giant fang monster attempting to kill me. This is one of the things that The One We Found does well.
Another impressive feat this game accomplishes is developing good-looking enemies and passable environments. Although half of the chapters are set within the same sort of environment, none of them are bad, nor look terrible.
Trying to find the right key or fuse for a locked door however is a deep exercise in patience, alongside reminding you of the need to book that eye test you’ve been needing to organize for the past six months.
Furthermore, small game design choices cause extreme frustration for the player on too many occasions. On my first playthrough I flat out missed picking up the torch in the first level. While there are one or two torches scattered throughout most levels, this should have not been an issue.
With similar complaint, while the environments don’t look terrible, a lot of the textures are plain and many of the attempts to create a scary atmosphere fall flat as poor body models uninspire to give the corpse-roping effect they’re supposed to.
Additionally, the puzzles are not just difficult to understand, but hard to solve some of the time, leaving you bewildered and confused rather than challenged and engaged (reading a 2 as a 7 for instance). As well as this, the controls are slow and inaccurate when it comes to shooting. Of which there is far too much in the later portions of the game.
The One We Found works best when you’re forced to only carry a torch, some batteries, and decide to avoid the invincible enemies. It works least effectively when you’re fighting off waves of what are basically zombies, as every mechanic and aspect at play within these sections has been executed better elsewhere.
The main story/campaign is a fairly lengthy 11 chapters though. However, while some are much shorter than others, the level design drags them out in a rather boring and repetitive manner. I found myself trying to work out how to manoeuvre entire areas, having realised afterwards that the entire area doesn’t need to be explored other than to find unnecessary items.
Another issue to detail is there are far too many batteries to pick up for your torch and far too much ammo to demand that the player need look in every nook and cranny for valuable resources. This level design may be purposeful, but it again feels like an exercise in frustration.
You can add to this that the menus are terrible to navigate, the soundtrack is unremarkable and loopy, and the load times are the longest I’ve seen for any game in a long time. In fact, they are unbelievably long – giving you an eight-figured percentage on the loading screen is just terrible.
Unforgivable design choices such as having to unequip a gun before equipping another one and losing all of the ammo in your current clip if you accidentally reload are inexcusable, and really do bring the praise of this title down a further notch.
Away from the campaign though and you’ll possibly be interested in the Survival mode, in which you can participate after you’ve finished with the story. A horde-mode copycat which has you defeating wave after wave of enemies, earning points and buying new weapons to fight off harder enemies as the waves go on. Again it is unoriginal, and the gunplay doesn’t do it any favours. That being said, it manages to move a bit more on to the fun action side compared to the main story, and because it commits to this route, the experience is more enjoyable than dabbing between both genres.
Achievements-wise and they are fair enough, but once more fail to bring too much excitement. Completing each chapter nets you an achievement as well as killing one-thousand zombies in survival mode and dying 20 times in total. There are a couple for interacting with objects in the first level, but that’s about the lot. I would’ve liked to see the developer include some that could emphasise exploration and story development.
Unless you’re dying for a scary fix which highlights how much one person can do in terms of development, I would probably steer clear of Whisperwood mental institution and the frustrations found within. You see, you might just end up submitting yourself as a patient.