Last Saturday I woke with an inch thick fur on my tongue and throbbing skull that bore a resemblance to a rhino pole dancing in a lift. A bit disorientated from the drink the night before, I saw someone laying next to me with a post-it note stuck to her back. On the note was ‘This is your wife. It’s Saturday morning. Take the dog for a walk, or you’ll be in the dog house’. I breathed a sigh of relief: it’s my handwriting. Just a typical weekend then. Some are not so fortunate and instead wake to the sound of a text from their best mate who they bailed on the night before, and somehow arrived in a stranger’s bed, as you do in One Night Stand on the Nintendo Switch.
One Night Stand is a visual novel; a genre that is frequently appearing on the Nintendo eShop, only most of the titles are predominantly of the anime/manga variety. This genre isn’t exactly my forte, but the presentation and subject matter appealed to me. Not because I’m some sort of Casanova picking up tips, but because it was a title that explored relationships and how to get out of an apparent difficult situation.
The initially nameless male character you play wakes up to the sound of a vibrating mobile. Text bubbles fill the screen as you slowly get your bearings, but the screen is blurred. You can either move the on-screen cursor with the analogue stick to locate the boisterous device or directly use the Switch’s touchscreen. Using the touchscreen was swifter and felt more intuitive, but I would later opt for the analogue sticks for when interacting with smaller areas. There’s nothing like sausage fingers on a touchscreen.
When you pick up the phone, your surroundings come into focus, and you see that you have a text message from your best friend, Gary. You bailed on him the night before, and he’s not particularly impressed with your friendship skills and demands a reply. It’s now up to you if you respond or ignore him. Realising that your phone is about to die, you search for a phone charger and start to decipher that this is not your bed. You also don’t know who the naked woman is next to you or how you got there. Gary texts again, and you can reply or ignore him once more and that’s how One Night Stand plays out; a series of multiple-choice actions that either lead you down a path of being a scumbag or a decent bloke who takes responsibility for his actions.
It’s not a pleasant situation to be in, but One Night Stand isn’t a seedy affair. Don’t expect to go into this to be some sort of sleazy after hours romp. It’s a grown-up take on the action-reaction model where for once, there are consequences. You’ve made your bed, now sleep in it, or other extracurricular activities. Ok, that’s a bad example, but the approach here is to piece together how you got there in the first place and what you will do next. Alternatively, you can just bail and get out of Dodge ASAP. It’s definitely an option, and it’s a sure way to get an ending in the fastest possible manner. That’s because One Night Stand has multiple endings and a variety of paths you can take.
I thought that my initial approach was a thoughtful one, but imagine my surprise when the woman in One Night Stand promptly kicked me out of the apartment before I had a chance to get dressed. Granted, I had previously snooped around her bedroom and noticed some pills. I innocently brought it up in conversation, and she took offence. She had thought I was accusing her of drugging me. It’s an understandable reaction, but there was a reasonable amount of evidence. Still, never mind. I had the option to play again.
As above, there are multiple endings in One Night Stand, and I unlocked three of them in the first 20 minutes or so. I wasn’t rushing through, but the narrative is a very brief one. You do, however, repeat the story, like Groundhog Day, until you unlock all the endings. The more you investigate her room, the more you reveal about her and form your responses accordingly. You can be more agreeable and unlock the romantic path, or you can give her the silent treatment and make a dash for it at the earliest opportunity.
One Night Stand is a text-based point and click adventure, so apart from a few sound effects here and there, there aren’t any spoken words. The conversation is very natural and well written, so it does feel as awkward as it should be. I’d rather experience this in the game and not in everyday life though. Wouldn’t you? I do need to clarify that this isn’t a conventional point and click adventure as the setting is static and you don’t physically move around the room. Instead, you interact with the objects and partake in the dialogue, which defines the game.
For such a small apartment, there is a lot to investigate, and you can’t inspect everything in one go. When you do inspect an item though, you can bring it up in conversation, or you can apply an opinion. When you see a novel on her bedside cabinet, you can consider it trashy or perhaps intriguing. Unfortunately, there aren’t any visual clues if you’ve selected the ‘correct’ response, as the dialogue sometimes remains the same. It isn’t until you get the ending that you realise whether you have done something different to the playthrough before or not. It can be a little hit and miss, so you exhaust all the available options.
Dialogue can be skipped. I don’t particularly like doing this in normal circumstances, but with repeat attempts, the exchanges don’t change, and you just want to get stuck in. By the way, there is a save option. It seemed a bit redundant as the game is so quick, but a couple of endings require the same path until the very last moment. Restoring a saved game saves you a few minutes, if not for that, was not a feature I flirted with.
The graphics are very nice and One Night Stand uses a rotoscoping method. To give some examples; The Lord of the Rings animated movie or A Scanner Darkly used the same aesthetic: animating over an actor to provide a realistic technique. When you’re talking to the woman, she awkwardly fidgets between the conversations and the subtle movements have quite a profound feel to it. She really is squirming as if under interrogation (she is!) or is it because of the uncomfortable situation?
But the real question is, will you be playing this once you have all the endings? The chances are slim. That’s not because it’s a bad game, but you can finish everything within a quick sitting. I managed to unlock all endings and the apparent Easter egg within two hours. I’m not showing off – I genuinely wanted this to last much longer. The visuals are a selling point, but is it a title you will showcase to your friends? Probably not. The theme isn’t in any way as seedy as it could have been, but it’s also not a game to shout out about. I was invested in the story, however, and my mind raced a few times at the possible conclusions. The dialogue here was authentic, witty at times and had me thinking I was caught up in this predicament, only without the hangover. Give One Night Stand a try, but take into consideration that it has the replay value of it’s namesake.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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One Night Stand Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 5/10
I was pleasantly surprised with One Night Stand. There was no need to reach for the Alka-Seltzer or come up with an alibi, but it was just a little too short for repeat plays in the future.
Natural and relatable dialogue
Multiple paths with a dozen different endings
An interesting concept, not tackled before
Despite the multiple endings, a little too brief
It’s not always clear if you’re on the path to unlocking a new ending
Dialogue is repeated the more you play