You Can Now Have A ‘One Night Stand’ With Your Favourite Console
I've seen and done a lot of incredible things on my diminutive Switch screen. I've shield-surfed down the side of a frozen Hyrule mountainside on my way to reclaiming a shattered kingdom; investigated seams of corruption that run all the way to the top in a virtual 1940s Los Angeles; and fought back an otherworldly invasion of humanity's final city in a post-apocalyptic 2078 while chained to a gigantic armoured dog. Which is to say: video games consistently deliver an incredibly diverse array of experiences.
But until the weekend just gone, I'd never made awkward small talk with a total stranger after waking up next to them, in their bed, with my brain thumping and my clothes spread all over her bedroom. I'd never had to rummage through her possessions as she went to the bathroom or the kitchen, desperately trying to find anything with her name on it; or swap texts with a mate to try to figure out how the hell I went from having a drink with him to the here and now of a hook-up's aftermath.
One-woman studio Kinmoku's One Night Stand is a visual novel - all of the interactions are point-and-click style, or dialogue based as you stumble through guesswork and assumptions on your way to leaving the company of this girl whose name you can't remember. There's no voice-over, stripped-back but effective music, and the animations are reminiscent of the Hotel Dusk games for the DS, as is the gameplay, really (a good thing, IMO).
The game was released on PC in 2016, where it received generous acclaim for its close-to-the-bone depiction of the situation it takes its title from; and it's available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. It's on the latter platform that I played it, unlocking four of its 12 endings on a busy train journey between Southampton and Brighton.
I can't deny that, a fair few times, I was anxious about what anyone looking over my shoulder might think about my choice of entertainment. From the moment the 'you' of One Night Stand wakes up, roused by the buzzing of a soon-to-die mobile phone, everything's incredibly personal (like the discarded condom wrapper on the carpet wasn't a gigantic, flashing sign to that effect). It's a game probably best played in the quiet comfort and privacy of your own home, rather than post-football packed public transport.
But then again, it's also a perfect game for bite-sized play, with each session from hungover realisation that this isn't your bed to leaving this equally strange house - with or without all of your clothes (or even some of her frilly smalls, if that's your thing) - taking about 20 minutes. This is where the multiple endings come in - One Night Stand can climax (poor choice of word? I'll allow it...) in 12 unique ways, and provides clues on how to achieve them.
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There's something very compelling about seeing the varied ways in which this unplanned union can fall apart dramatically - the game encourages you to be a dick about it, just as much as it recommends that, maybe, you could be nice to this stranger you just had sex with. I've not unlocked the dirty dozen just yet, but I'm on my way - my favourite so far being the one where I snuck out with a 'trophy' of sorts, while the one called 'Going Viral' definitely felt rotten. (Thankfully, it's a social media reference, not a nod to any itchiness that'll flare up later that day.)
Some endings are funny, some cute, some cruel. Any already-seen dialogue can be fast-forwarded on repeat plays, leaving crucial decision-making moments yours to manipulate how you wish, as you look to see every eventuality. And with each playthrough you learn things that can be put to use the next time you dive under the duvet - and not every piece of information you acquire by going through this girl's possessions will be entirely what it seems.
One Night Stand is priced appropriately for what it is - this intriguing piece of interactive fiction will set you back £3.99 on PS4 and Switch, and £4.99 on Xbox One. It lets players mess around with circumstances that few of us would ever consider simple, with no lasting repercussions, and represents a grown-up form of gaming that doesn't rely on guns and violence to warrant its PEGI rating.
It packs within it all of the dirt and despair, thrills and thirst of its subject matter, without the need to hot-wash the sheets or block anyone on Twitter afterwards, and illustrates again just how many wonderfully different experiences fall under this great banner of video games in the 21st century.
Featured Image Credit: Kinmoku