One and One Story

Mattia "MaTX" Traverso

One and One Story is a puzzle platformer with a clever approach. There are no enemies, and only one trap (the traditional spike pit), but the characters also die if they fall too far. And there are crates to push, which of course can be used in some circumstances to diminish the fall distance.

So far, so traditional; what's different about One and One Story is that there are two characters, one blue and one pink, and your objective on each level is to get the two of them together. Every few levels, the behavior of the two characters change. In some, you can switch from one to the other; in others, they move in concert; in others they move in opposite directions. The difficulty is that you must ensure that neither character dies, and of course when you're focussing on one, it's sometimes easy to fail to notice the danger in which you're putting the other.

The fact that the rules for how Pink moves changes frequently has another interesting effect; Traverso often re-uses the same level design but with different rules for movement, so that a different strategy is required to solve the level.

One and One Story was a 2012 IGF Nominee in the Student category.


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So this whole "game

So this whole "game mechanics tell a story" or "game mechanics are metaphors for emotional relationships" thing that we've got going on: it's all good, but can we reach a point, please, where in these games:

a) Male is not always the default character
b) Heterosexual monogamous relationships are not the only relationships which are ever depicted
c) Blue = male, pink = female. Really? Again? REALLY?

Also, did anyone else find

Also, did anyone else find the story creepy? That "...again" (IIRC; it's been a while since I played it) at the end could've been utterly chilling if the designer appeared to be aware that he was portraying himself as, well, controlling and sometimes abusive.

So, basically a low-budget

So, basically a low-budget indie Braid, complete with uncomfortable mysognistic themes that may or may not have been called out in the narrative.

Just for the record, Braid

Just for the record, Braid is low budget. And also indie.

"Misogynistic" is a stretch. It is not sensitive to gender concerns, but to read gender dynamics into a game mechanic is a bit of a mismatch. The game is a platformer, with two movable entities, which must be brought together to complete a level. Everything else is narrative fluff, which is only arguably, and very tenuously, non-PC.

Yes, creepy.

I also found the subtext of this creepy as fuck, even before I got to the ending.

The most depressing thing about it was how passive Pink was -- she will even run directly into pits if Blue isn't there to save her. This could have been used to good effect if there was some sort of reversal in later stages, but except for the stage where Pink can jump and Blue can't, that's not the case.

(Completely unrelated, did the music make anyone else feel like they were back in Tristram?)

really, a mismatch?

I don't think it's a mismatch to read gender dynamics into a game mechanic when the mechanic is communicated in terms of a blue guy and a pink girl, and wrapped in a story that's explicitly presented as the story of the designer's own relationship.

If we don't want to say that games can't say anything through their mechanics, because they're just games, then we need to admit that sometimes games unintentionally reveal something through their mechanics. (Which starwed hits on the head; as I said, I haven't played it for a while, but I remember a level where Pink is hysterically running around, even to her death, and Blue has to gently guide her to safety.)