STAFF REVIEW of One We Found, The (Xbox One)

Thursday, December 6, 2018.
by Chad Goodmurphy

One We Found, The Box art In order to be successful, a good horror game must strike a balance between being both scary and fun. At the same time, it must also be challenging and offer something that the player hasn’t seen before. This is tough to do, and it’s why a lot of games (and movies) fail to stand out within the genre. It also doesn’t help that there’s so many of them, with many having been made on shoestring budgets.

The latest title to enter this overflowing genre is The One We Found from Irish developer Josh Loveridge, aka. Loveridge Designs. Part stealth experience, part first-person shooter, and part run for your life simulator, it’s an indie title that doesn’t stand out for any positive reasons. In fact, I am sad to say that it’s easily one of the worst games I’ve played in recent years, if not in general.

The One We Found is a strange little title, which borrows from some much better games. Set in the dark and dilapidated Whisperwood Mental Institution, it tasks players with uncovering a ‘mystery’ while dealing with zombie-like former patients and other disturbing creatures. All while solving very light puzzles and trying to survive.

Upon assuming control of the protagonist, you become James Ledgewick, a psychotherapist who’s employed at the institution. Voiceless, forgettable, and hardly ever named (if at all), he’s simply an almost invisible avatar due to the game’s first-person viewpoint. The only part of him that you can really see is his bottom half, meaning the ends of his legs and his feet. Honestly, if I hadn’t of read who he was, I would’ve had no idea that he was even an employee.

Things begin outside of Whisperwood, where you quickly become best friends with a flashlight. Reason being is that The One We Found is incredibly dark, to the point where it’s impossible to see anything without a flashlight, and even then it’s difficult at times. The game has several brightness settings, starting with recommended and going all the way to ultra-bright, but even the ultra-bright setting is still somewhat dark. You’d think it’d be incredibly bright and would ruin the game, but it’s actually how I played because I couldn’t see a damned thing on the recommended brightness setting and got lost right at the start. It didn’t help that I didn’t notice the flashlight, and walked right by it. I later found it after starting over, due to the frustration of not being able to see in this dark setting.

The flashlight truly is your best friend here, and the game certainly borrows from Outlast and Outlast II in this regard. Flashlight batteries are scattered all over the place, and that’s exactly how it was with those two games, not that they’re the only interactive experiences to ever feature flashlights. The One We Found also borrows from them in other ways though, including featuring monsters who chase you and you have to hide. How do you do this? In lockers... when it works, at least.

The campaign plays out over eleven chapters, a few of which are a minute long, if not less. Others can take a little while to complete, because while those who know the game well (and don’t end up having any trouble) can complete The One We Found in an hour or so, but doing so requires a lot of luck. The game’s AI is terrible, and some of its enemies are very difficult to get away from, especially given the fact that the developers want you to either lead them away from combination locks and/or hide from them and hope that they will walk far away (which they rarely do). Why combination locks? Several important doors and gates are locked and require you to slowly and methodically input the proper combinations after discovering them written on folders, pieces of paper or walls. It takes time, and when an enemy is running after you it’s impossible to do, given that they just end up killing you as you attempt to get the numbers right.

As you play, you’ll discover that the game's structure is rather odd. Some chapters take place within caverns located underneath the sanitarium, while others are set inside of it, in what often feels more like an office building than a mental institution. It isn’t as if the main character is shown moving from one to another either. He’ll be in the caves for one level, reach the exit and then appear elsewhere. Then, after a stealth mission in the office-like sanitarium, he’ll be in the caves again. How does the game explain this? Not very well. At the end of some levels you’ll suffer a random heart attack and wake up in a new location. Then, at the end of others, you’ll enter a dreamlike state and go back to where you were before. This is all told through text, of course, and it’s honestly quite funny.

You’ve likely already gleamed from what I wrote so far that The One We Found is all about getting to exits, you'd be right. It's very much the case, because your goal in each stage is to find a way out. This is accomplished by solving puzzles (finding fuses, locating combinations, unlocking electronic keypad locks, manipulating crystals to create electricity, etc.) that will eventually lead to the exit door unlocking. Then, upon exiting each one, you’ll be rewarded with at least 50 achievement points.

The indoor stages are all about stealth, and they’re by far the worst and most frustrating. The reason being is that they include a terribly annoying and poorly crafted female enemy, who can be heard singing. She’s like Left 4 Dead’s witches in some respects, because she only attacks when alerted. If you get close to her, she’ll notice you and then take off after you. Your goal is to avoid her, sneak by her if you can (good luck), or either hide from her or run around her when she notices you. Guess what, though? She’s a one hit killer and cannot be harmed.

Needless to say, it’s cheap as hell and gets really frustrating at times, especially when you need to access multiple rooms off of a hallway that she’s guarding.

These very similar, and practically rehashed, environments also feature maze-like vents that one must crawl through in order to get to other rooms, find keys or get to an old computer terminal that may or may not unlock a door. As gamers we’ve all crawled through many vents, but these happen to be guarded by a creepy skeleton-of-sorts that can crawl quickly and deals lots of damage when he gets close. Sometimes he can be avoided, but it’s hard to get by him without alerting him at least once. This can lead to some cheap and annoying deaths, all of which wouldn’t be as frustrating if the game had some checkpoints.

Yes, you read that right, there are no checkpoints whatsoever. If you die, you’re forced to start the level over again. Sure, it helps that most of them are pretty short, but that doesn’t keep it from becoming annoying or being a waste of time.

The other levels – the ones set in the caves, that is – play out differently. They tend to be longer, feature more puzzles and include some gun-based combat. During these levels you’ll run through similar looking rocky caverns, read notes left by a researcher or some other type of doctor, and discover some of the institution’s backstory as it pertains to the sickness that ravaged its patients. You’ll also use crystals to unlock doors and generate electricity, all while fending off some zombie-like humans, along with some strange and out of place Girl Guide-esque enemies.

It’s a weird mix, and an odd experience overall. Not to mention one that doesn’t exactly mesh as well as its developer probably intended. This isn’t aided by how unpolished, broken and downright terrible the gameplay often is. To say that this thing feels like a clunky PS1 game would be describing it well.

For starters, the controls are far from player friendly, with left on the d-pad used for crouching, B used for reloading and RB used for firing weapons. Moving is handled by the left stick, as is running (though it’s difficult to run for long because you have to really hold L3 in to do so), and the right stick does a poor job of being your viewpoint. Meanwhile, the game features a limited inventory system like you’d find in an older Resident Evil game, and the action doesn’t even pause when you go into it. As such, it’s easy to run out of ammo and then die while trying to pull out another gun, or even reload.

Why do you need to go into your inventory to reload? Well, there are times where your gun will show available reloads and there’ll be times where it won’t, even if you have extra clips. This requires you to go into the inventory and double tap A to make them available, before exiting the inventory, and pressing B to reload. Meanwhile, if you want to change guns, of which there are several, including a pistol, SMG, rifle and a shotgun that I didn’t find, you’ll have to open the inventory, double tap A to unequip the one you’ve been using, and then double tap A to equip the one you want to use. Good luck with doing so if you don’t have an empty space in your inventory for the gun you’re unequipping, because if you don’t nothing will happen.

Sounds fun, huh?

Unsurprisingly, the loading times are atrocious, even though this thing looks, feels and plays like a PS1 game, or at the very least something from the Xbox 360’s Indies section. For some reason, the developers also chose to bestow The One We Found with the weirdest loading screens I’ve maybe ever seen. Even though it’s just a gray background with the game’s title poorly plastered above, it still remains incredibly weird. That’s because, instead of using a normal loading wheel or percentage, this abomination goes to the fifth percentile. By that, I mean it’ll often show numbers like 21.20756% and 27.30156%, before jumping to 90% and then 100%.

This screen appears at the end of each stage, and also makes its' presence before the retry option appears after each death. Hell, the game even shows a loading screen before going to its main menu.

Honestly, there’s not one part of this thing that is anywhere close to good. The stealth is clunky and frustrating, the controls are awful, the shooting mechanics feel 20 or more years old and ammo is sometimes so scarce that it’s nonexistent. Meanwhile, the enemies are awful and their AI is terrible, and those things combine to create lots of unnecessarily cheap and frustrating deaths. Then again, at least The One We Found rewards its players for achieving 20 deaths.

On top of all of that, it’s not very scary, despite beginning with text that mentions a scientist who discovered the world’s most frightening sound back in the 80s. It’s said that this game features that sound – which is known to terrify – but it’s not something that you’ll notice. You’ll hear it though, and you should use headphones to get the full effect. Meanwhile, the sound is bad, there’s little in the way of scares and the main menu plays a loop of screams and growls that will drive you up the wall.

I’ve already talked about the visuals, so I won’t say too much more. I will say though, that if you’re brave enough to give this one a shot, you can expect incredibly dated and ugly textures and animations. That, as well as occasional frame rate drops and gameplay that sometimes loads incorrectly, to the point where you’ll find that you’re unable to crouch, unable to open your inventory or unable to use a flashlight. I experienced all three glitches more than once.

In addition to the rest, The One We Found also features a very blatant rip-off of Call of Duty’s Zombies mode as its secondary game type. It has you facing off against waves of zombie-like creatures, all while earning points that can be used to purchase new weapons, weapon upgrades and ammo. Said points can also be used to open doors to new areas within the three different maps. It’s as blatant a rip-off as it is bad.

In conclusion, it almost goes without saying that I cannot, in any way, shape or form, recommend ever buying The One We Found. Don’t buy it if it’s two dollars, don’t buy it if it’s one dollar, and don’t buy it if it’s fifty cents. The frustration that comes from its dated gameplay, terrible AI and poor level design isn’t worth it, even if there’s an easy 1000 achievement points to be found. Stay far, FAR away from this one.

Overall: 1.7 / 10
Gameplay: 1.3 / 10
Visuals: 1.8 / 10
Sound: 2.0 / 10


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