Video gaming might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about love. But gaming can be quite romantic if couples share the hobby together. Long nights spent trying to solve the next puzzle in an adventure game à la Sam & Max or hacking and slashing side-by-side through Diablo-style games can be quite a bonding experience.
Even if you don’t like video gaming and/or are annoyed by the many hours your partner spends in front of the PC or console, give it a try. Choose a game that sounds (at least remotely) interesting to you, order your favourite fast food and don’t make plans for the evening. Stay in and enjoy a video game night.
And you never know: maybe these video games will one day play a crucial part in your marriage proposal. It’s happened before. Time magazine reported on a man whose girlfriend was intrigued by Portal 2’s problem-solving game play, so he decided to propose to her by using the video game. He contacted the developers, Valve, and somehow managed to get Ellen McLain, the voice of Portal and Portal 2’s main antagonist (GLaDOS), to help out with his special request. He also found two game designers who specialized in modifying game levels to create him a custom level. But hey, in case you don’t have a couple of top-notch game designers and a voice actress on speed dial, you can keep it slightly more simple like YouTube hero SilvasRW, who decorated a room like a level of Super Mario Bros. and proposed with a real-life version of Mario’s famous question-mark box. Both proposals, in case you were curious, were successful.
In that spirit, this week you get to play Eros yourself in One and One Story, a free browser game that digs deep into how relationships work.
Developed by Mattia “MaTX’” Traverso, One and One Story is a jump ’n’ run game with the goal of reuniting two lovers. In each level, both characters start out as shadows of themselves until they are reunited. Poetic sentences on the screen hint at what you need to do, at the same time telling the story of the couple.
The game consists of several chapters containing multiple levels. In every level, you start out in the role of the boy. With the arrow keys, you can move and jump; by pressing C you can shift between him and the girl — which is necessary depending on the level you are in.
In the first chapter, the boy simply needs to get to the girl. He has to overcome obstacles such as wide valleys full of deadly spikes or fatal heights. Wooden boxes, spread all over the levels, can be stacked to form platforms or pushed down to minimize the height for jumps. Whenever you fail to get to the girl, you automatically start at the beginning of the current level.
In chapter two of One and One Story, the girl starts running blindly towards the boy as soon as she sees him. You have to find the right timing to get to her before she gets in harm’s way; otherwise, you have to start the level all over again. In the third chapter, the girl starts moving the exact same way the boy does, so you have to plan ahead to determine where she’ll end up; you might need to think twice before taking a major jump or running around wildly. In chapter four, it’s the exact opposite. If you head left as the boy, the girl heads to the right. It may be safe on the left side of the screen, but remember: she might be heading into danger on the opposite side. In the fifth chapter, the girl starts running away — again, blindly. You have to make sure that she stays safe. And in the last part of the game, the boy can’t jump anymore, so the girl has to take on a big part of the game play.
Some level designs repeat themselves, but the changing scenarios offer different possibilities and difficulties.
Throughout the game, the boy makes a personal transition, which you can follow by reading the lines in each level. He describes different scenarios in relationships reflected by the different chapters (running towards each other, one person running away, etc.). Before the final level, the boy realizes that the two lovers were shadows first, and now they are light, which is demonstrated by an atmospheric level with minimal circles of light around the two lovers — the only light source in the level. In the final level, the boy stands on a high platform and the girl sits down below and waits for him. The only hint is “Trust me.” To avoid spoiling it, I won’t tell what you have to do, but it’s a very moving level.
After the final level, you unlock a bonus co-op chapter with new, complex levels in which two players can play on the same keyboard.
A non-intrusive soundtrack accompanies the whole game, and the colourful yet slightly dark design fits the tone of One and One Story.
One and One Story is a great example of a sincere, reflective game, and thanks to the bonus co-op chapter, an ideal gateway game for a couple’s video game night.