One Hand Clapping – Preview
Follow Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
Developer: Bad Dream Games
Publisher: HandyGames
Platform: PC, Google Stadia
Tested On: PC

One Hand Clapping – Preview

Good: Good concept, innovative
Bad: Accessibility issues
User Score
8.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The world of games with unconventional controls is a rather unexplored one; other than the occasional motion sensors, very few games and systems mess around with them. While trying them out always brings novelty and uniqueness, accessibility is a big concern, risking the alienation of certain players. One Hand Clapping’s main mechanics revolve around sounds, both the ones in the game and those produced by the player, and how they interact with each other. Here is how it fares in its Early Access state.

One Hand Clapping’s story doesn’t contain any written words, instead, the game lets players infer its obscure narrative through the few cutscenes it features. Throughout these, players will see the main character being chased by a formless darkness, attempting to extinguish their voice.

The game features a rather pretty 2D style filled to the brim with vibrant colors and whimsical designs. Each of the different zones contains its own unique and distinct environment, with a color palette matched by its inhabitants. Thanks to the game’s animations, these characters are also rather expressive, conveying a wide range of emotions through their movements and expressions.

As one may expect from a game themed around singing and music, One Hand Clapping’s sound design is stellar¸ although not without flaw. These come mainly with the mixing, which makes the beautiful soundtrack incredibly quiet compared to the sound effects of the game. That aside, similarly to the art design, each of the different areas also features its own unique theme. This is the case for both the SFX and soundtrack, which do a great job diversifying the different areas.

One Hand Clapping belongs to the puzzle-platformer genre, with mechanics revolving around sound and music. Throughout the game, players will be tasked with powering different elements by singing into their microphone in different ways, such as matching and maintaining a tone, holding a note, and more.

Following the example set by the art and sound being unique for each area, most of the mechanics also change for each of these. In every new zone, players will be introduced to a brand new mechanic that will be utilized for the remainder of the level, sometimes reappearing later on. Each of these mechanics will shape the theme of the area itself, such as the rhythm-altering one in Maestro Mountain, changing the tempo of the background music, or the player’s input appearing as an echo.

While all of the game’s puzzles are generally simplistic mechanically, the unique control scheme adds an unexpected layer of difficulty, particularly to those puzzles which require some amount of accuracy. Relying on a range detection system, the game will often expect players to match the tones it produces in order to progress which, despite seeming easy enough, soon becomes problematic due to the game’s unreliable sound detection on mid to lower-end microphones. This may lead players into endlessly adjusting the game’s sensitivity and range detection in order to make it simply function as expected, as it seems to be unable to differentiate certain voice tones.

On top of this, the game does also pose to be a problem for those players who may suffer from tone-deafness due to the aforementioned tone matching puzzles. While most can be solved through trial and error, this is by no means optimal, resulting in rather repetitive and frustrating levels. Luckily enough, the game doesn’t really feature a fail state, simply allowing players to endlessly retry any given puzzles.

Conclusion

One Hand Clapping is a rather unique and entertaining game with innovative mechanics and design, which fails to account for accessibility. Those players who do own a decent microphone and are not tone deaf will find a very enjoyable game with around 5 hours of gameplay, but anyone else should consider it before getting into the game at the current point in its development. Priced at $/€9,99/£8.49, One Hand Clapping is very adequately priced for the content it offers, although its price is set to increase for the full release.

Personal Opinion

“As anyone reading the review might have guessed, the issues with mid-range microphones are something I had to deal with. While my microphone has a good enough quality for almost anything, it is no fancy gadget with static cancellation and all that jazz. This means I had to mess around with the sensitivity a lot for it to work properly, even having to turn off my ceiling fan at some points since the game would pick it up and stop reacting. This, and the issues with tone detection, were most evident in the parts of the game where I was required to sing scales, which would get botched by whichever random noise the game picked up, forcing me to try over and over. These sections were also particularly frustrating since tone-deafness is also something I have to deal with. While it didn’t impede me from playing the game at all, it did mean I had to basically sing a whole scale every time I had to match a tone, with a most egregious case where the tone marker was hidden behind the environment, forcing me to try over and over until I lucked out and was able to progress. With all this said, I do not really blame the game for the problems I encountered and would still recommend it to anyone who won’t have these issues, although I definitely wish I could’ve enjoyed playing it more than I currently did.” 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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One Hand Clapping - Preview, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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