Playing the early access of Just One Line took me down this road of nostalgia. Its got all the ingredients of a typical RPG. You create a character, any character and the options here really are endless, and you go adventuring. Every quest starts at the quest board in the local tavern and off you go. It’s a pretty standard fare.
I remember when I was just a lad living on my family’s snake farm, my school was chosen as a test location for a computer systems development company. Basically, they installed a bunch of computers in a class and connected those computers to another cluster on the mainland via something called The Internet. It was 1991 and Windows was taking a swipe at the big GUI developers like Macintosh and Commodore with their 3rd bite at the Apple (if you’ll excuse the pun) called Windows 3.0.
These were exciting times indeed! I remember walking into that lab once it was set up and seeing what looked like something out of Star Trek. They had spared no expense. 12 IBM 386 DX Windows systems running 2 MB of RAM and sporting a whopping 20MB of hard drive space. They all had the latest 256 VGA monitors attached, which meant what you saw on screen was indistinguishable from reality. They even had a fancy telephone cradle with rubber cups that you would clip a telephone receiver into and it would click and chirp away sending data into what was then a very empty cyberspace. We were told that this modem was sending data at a theoretical speed of 56 kb/s and that it would take only a week to send 4 MB of data to the mainland.
I remember towards the end of the year when the program was shutting down, our teacher brought in a plastic box with a see-through lid, full of floppy drives. There must have been 10 or 12 discs in there and, for those few of us who had shown a keen interest in this new arcane art of “computer science”, he revealed what would become the key to passing the time of monsoon season… The computer game! Specifically, The Death Knights of Krynn, a Dungeons and Dragons RPG that allowed you to create whatever character you wanted (sort of) and to make whatever decisions you wanted (sort of) and then reap the consequence of said decision.
Back then the idea of action and consequence wasn’t foreign. Turn your back on the river and you probably will become crocodile food, but the youth of today with their millennial entitlement, participation awards and the celebration of mediocrity, don’t have a clue.
Why am I telling all of this? I don’t know, but I think it relates somehow to Just One Line, an RPG in the same vein as those early DnD games. The graphics are very reminiscent of those games, though much much smoother. What this game does really really well is how every decision you make has a consequence and that is this games “je ne sais quoi”.
It’s not unlike those books from way back that allowed you to choose your own adventure, where it presents a situation and then gives you three options on how you want to react. You make your decision and then turn to page whatever and the story continues, until the next decision. The beauty of this system is that the replay value is enormous.
The art direction is very basic, but really quite enchanting and the music and sound effects are excellent. Just One Line is a game you can really immerse yourself in and, if you are an old school gamer like me, the nostalgia value is really high.
I’m not sure what kind of audience this game is going to find, but I like it. Firstly, because of all the reasons mentioned above and, secondly, because of the potential for this game to grow. Apparently, the SDK is available for you and me to expand the game with our user-generated content and, thirdly, because it is an indy game which dares to go where angels fear to tread and basically gives the middle finger to the mainstream, politically correct establishment.
In Just One Line, bad decisions make for bad results and its no one’s fault but your own. In today’s world that’s the equivalent of saying that the Earth is round and that the sun is the centre of the solar system.
Your character will eventually retire and there is a neat leaderboard feature where you can compete with your friends for the honour of greatest hero in the kingdom, so it really caters for a wide range of gamers. I personally feel that this would work extremely well as a mobile game too, so if you guys at JOL read this, please let me know if that’s a possibility for the future.
I’d say this is a brilliant introduction for JOL Studios and I really look forward to seeing where this game goes and what do they do next. At R110.00 on Steam, I’d say go for it, it is the silly season and Just One Line is (on the surface) a silly game.