I’ve been eagerly anticipating One Way Trip ever since I heard about its rad premise: water has been contaminated with a lethal, hallucinogenic poison and everyone who has ingested any now has six hours to live. The trailers didn’t make it clear what kind of a game One Way Trip was, and that part of the mystery was part of the reason I was so excited to finally experience it. I had no clue if this was a drugged out shooter, or what I was going to be doing once I began. I just knew it was going to be weird, and I was right in that regard.
One Way Trip is actually a visual novel, and the only real in-game interaction is making dialogue choices. There are some combat sequences, but they’re about as complicated as V.A.T.S. in Fallout 3. Simply select a person and you’ll attempt to shoot them. It’s kind of disappointing in that regard; just a few extra layers of gameplay would’ve made for a more captivating time, as I often got tired of pressing the cross button repeatedly.
The story revolves around two brothers, Barry and Gordon, who have both been poisoned. I instantly took a liking to the two characters, as the dialogue in One Way Trip is very well-written (even if it can get too wordy at points). Both have a human quality to them that isn’t seen frequently in video game writing, although they do seem to be stuck in the ’90s considering how often they say “word.” They’re basically the stereotypical type of goofballs that one would expect to see in a stoner comedy.
It doesn’t take long for the game to get extremely weird. After being poisoned, the two bros leave their house and run into a former hitman who now teaches psychology at the university Barry attends. This is only the tip of the iceberg, though, as the duo then decides to join a dangerous rebel group in order to search for a cure that may not even exist.
This group is filled with eccentric characters, including the miniature-hat-wearing Boobs Cowboy, and some even have superpowers. Well, I call them eccentric because they would be in any other game, but pretty much every character is something else here. Even minor characters, such as a bartender robot, showcase a lot of personality, and I really loved watching these characters interact with each other. That being said though, the game can start to really drag at times. A lot of conversations tended to go in circles, with characters repeating the same core ideas multiple times. There isn’t a real flow to the plot, and it grew tiring at points.
A lot about the state of the world in One Way Trip is purposefully vague at first. This actually makes it hard to determine if the characters are tripping balls when things start to get crazy, or if this is just the world they live in. By the end of the six-hour journey I felt like I had learned enough about the world to determine what was a hallucination and what wasn’t, but that mystery was always in the back of my mind. Regardless, this definitely isn’t set on the Earth I live on.
A lot of One Way Trip‘s general vibe comes from the art style and music. The game has a huge original soundtrack that ranges from grunge to rap, and while I didn’t find all of the music enjoyable to listen to, it really contributes to the trippy atmosphere. A lot of the lyrics revolve around drug use, and just like the in-game text, the music isn’t shy about using curse words early and often. The entire game is in your face from the very beginning.
Generally, I think it’s pretty hard for a developer to screw up a visual novel, but there are some really disappointing shortcomings here. Unlike most games in the genre, a text log isn’t available. That meant if I accidentally pressed the cross button an additional time and skipped a piece of dialogue that I would never see it again. That absolutely sucks when the entire appeal of the game is the story. There also isn’t an option to auto-play text, so players can’t just read along as the story progresses.
The biggest disappointment about the entire experience is that the ending just kind of happened with little fanfare. I went on crazy adventures, and then the ending seemed like a completely throwaway scene. It was baffling to me. Now, there are several different endings to One Way Trip, so I can’t say that every conclusion is as unsatisfying as the one I got, but it really soured the experience for me.
I may have been bummed out by how One Way Trip concluded, but if I learned anything from the experience, it was that the journey is more important than the destination. In that aspect, Beret’s absolutely insane PS4 title is a success. It confused the hell out of me, had me burst into tears while laughing, and left me wanting to know more about the world they’ve crafted. I’m definitely interested in checking out the game’s other endings, but for now I’m just going to enjoy the trip I already went on. If anything, it was certainly memorable.
This review is based on the PS4 version, which we were provided with.
One Way Trip may not be a great game, but I definitely feel like everyone should meet Boobs Cowboy and use the term "word" more often.