Ever felt like you wanted to move things with your bellowing voice, as if you were a God? Well now you can! One Hand Clapping – The Finger Guns Review.
First thing’s first; I don’t sing. I act, I dance, I direct. If there is one thing you can know about me, it is that I do not sing. It’s more for your health than it is mine. I am perfectly aware that I sound like a cat on helium that has been stomped on, but I would much rather anyone else didn’t have to experience that. So having a singing game drop into Finger Guns HQ and Rossko (our resident singer/songwriter) isn’t the one to pick it up, is a bit out of the ordinary.
Something drew me to this game, I couldn’t tell you what it was. I wasn’t immediately put off even attempting to try it or avoid it, like I usually am with ANYTHING that involves singing (I am not the one to invite to Karaoke!). I thought, “Yeah.. I’ll give that a crack”. With that in mind, I want to take you through my Journey of One Hand Clapping and how the game holds up when you are just as tone deaf as me.
One Hand Clapping is a 2D platformer that requires you to sing or hum into your microphone to explore the world around you, solve puzzles, and discover hidden treasures. The game opens in a dark sleepy city. Surrounding you are hostile eyes, and shadowy figures. At first your voice illuminates up the jet black that has engulfed the city.
The game itself is very cutesy, boasting pastels of both dark and light palettes. There is no ‘story’ or background given as such to your motivation for assuming your character, but you carry onwards likely assuming the dark shadowy figures are foes. The game is well versed in guiding you through what is expected of you, showing this slowly and allowing you to feel comfortable and ease into the levels. This is a surreal experience, at first I felt almost a bit shocked at moving a box with my voice.
Your voice raises you to a different level, or can pave the way to continue forward in your journey out of the city.
There are 7 locations altogether. Four larger areas to explore with unique puzzles and differences required of you based on your voice, and then 3 smaller areas, making up your ‘tutorial’ and two prologue type areas.
As aforementioned, each world takes a different spectacle, not only visually, but mechanically too. The puzzles in this game are so unique. When you enter your first biome location, the level focuses and depends on your pitch. Lifting pillars and escalating yourself to reach higher area’s by having a higher pitch, and lowering platforms and pillars by lowering your pitch. Sidenote: Do you know how often throughout life I have been like ‘ahhhhhh’ to express something being raised, or moving? The answer is MANY. The fact that I could do this and something actually moves, left me feeling pretty powerful for a short time.
I Never Really Listened In Music Class…
Timing is important also. Flying levels within the game will depend on your timing, and how quickly you may be able to change pitch and tone to complete the soar through the sky. Now, admittedly, If I was reading this review, being the non-singer I am, the last two/three paragraphs sound incredibly daunting and far too technical. One Hand Clapping does an incredible job of making you as the player feel comfortable to take risks, to be a bit braver.
The game has the option to calibrate it’s settings to your own voice, becoming pitch perfect in your own individual way. Everyone has a pitch and a tone that is natural to them, some people will sing in the note C, others in B. The option will demo examples of typical puzzle sounds. The options will keep the example whilst the player will be able to match their own comfortable range by scrolling through the voice note alphabet. It’s an excellent way for the player to feel like they are not competing with anyone or anything, that their voice is enough. Whether West End trained, or screaming cat untrained this game can be for anyone and is extremely fun even in your late twenties, making random noises in your living room.
Additionally, One Hand Clapping invites an educational experience. If turned on, you are able to consistently follow the range of your own voice at different pitches and tones. For anyone who has ever wanted to learn, or even just gain more knowledge for own interest, this is a nice addition.
Smoke and Mirrors
As you progress onwards through each location, each new world learns and takes lessons from it’s last. Almost like unconsciously building your own song. Every new world invites new techniques, new manoeuvres, ways to traverse new puzzles. Duet’s with characters aid progress whilst working together and not feeling so lonely working towards a shared goal of light and discovery. At the end of some worlds, it turns into a cracking little sing-a-long.
As the game goes on, the puzzles ramp up. Not only in somehow figuring out new ways to use your voice to surpass obstacles such as matching pitch to bloom flowers, or using clock hands and shadows to manipulate height; but also difficulty. Later biomes test players in timing and logic. An interesting take was a section on reflections and mirrors, moving the character on the mirror, and having the reflective self use their voice, or trigger platforms against the clock. This then allows the non reflective character to simultaneously move with the reflection to hit the perfect time to get from A to B.
Accessibility is really important for all games, in allowing players to enjoy the game at their pace and level of gaming ability, but also ability to physically play the game to ensure players are not excluded unfairly. Should players feel a puzzle is too difficult, or finding a certain area frustrating to solve, there is an option to solve this. At times I even found myself doing this by being absolutely baffled by the amount of obstacles in front of me, or the timing needed to change my pitch.
I was honestly continuously impressed by the inventive ways I could journey on my adventure. Using dual sense controls to beat in time with drums, controlling wind, moving bells. Amazingly, the game records your own voice at times, using your voice as a Tarzan echo through the jungle to trigger platforms to jump upon, or ride an erupted crater to lift you.
By this time players are well versed in what the game expects of them and likely well practiced. With this comes a greater skill, and players can start to manipulate how long they hold their note to knock off a series of berries on vines and other various small mini games they will come across.
Finally, I don’t think any adventure game would be complete without some sort of big bad. This battle incorporates everything you have learnt from previous worlds, using dark and light. The battle leads you into a false sense of security at first, but you learn to realise it is now to use the skills you have learnt.
The game never describes or has a narrative to why you were doing what you were doing, where you were going, what was happening. That is for the player to determine. This could be a story of reflection, running from the dark, or embracing the light in a darker time. Whatever your song, that’s yours to play.
Technically, the game is incredibly impressive. I didn’t run into any difficulty in portraying my voice from microphone to game, (other than the sheer cringe I felt at first from my partner being in the same room hearing my cackle). One Hand Clapping never felt frustrating, or that it didn’t hear me, or that it’s response was all over the place (except when I was). There was no input delay whatsoever which is impressive when a game predominantly responds to sound.
It would be very easy for a game responding to sound to feel clunky and not smooth, and this game isn’t that. There are ways to change the sensitivity so should the microphone be picking up background noise, this won’t impact your gameplay, but it doesn’t feel like a mini game of getting the perfect environment to play in. This game is one you could jump into whatever is going on around you. Unfortunately I ran into one crash, admittedly the game was coming to quite the crescendo, and a lot was happening. It has an autosave feature and therefore I didn’t lose a frustrating amount of progress and this never happened again.
For someone who doesn’t sing, nor do I enjoy the act of hearing my own voice, I had so much fun playing One Hand Clapping. This game is innovative and boasts what the future could hold when movement isn’t the main feature. This game has potential not only for enjoyment but for the start of a passion, or growth of confidence for others. This game is educational. It invites anyone to come and try something out, to play around and have fun. I certainly had a ton of laughs hearing my voice go from low to high, high to low so quickly my voice would make a little squeak. I was having too much fun to care!
With 5 hours playtime and a few more for completionist’s who want to uncover the hidden troves some biomes have, for me, this game felt slightly too long. Some puzzles are repeated however this is minimal, albeit noticeable. The boss battle does lengthen for some time and when you think the game has ended, you are invited to complete two more areas. The areas are bursting with colour and are quite fabulous, but it was a strange feeling thinking I had reached the end only to continue more. I was happy with what I completed.
However, I am coming from a place where singing is not something I am passionate about, and I can absolutely see how this run time is perfect for anyone who enjoys the hobby. It says a lot about a game, the design, aesthetic and play of a game that someone not versed in the skill, still came away with so much enjoyment. This is a game I would recommend to the many friends who drag me to Karaoke, but also the ones who like me, would never have imagined playing this game to begin with. It holds an interesting stance of replayability as someone may not always be in the mood to sing and harmonise with characters.
Although, when they are in that mood? This is the game for them.
An innovative, inventive and unique experience in gaming, One Hand Clapping is impressive in almost every way. Whether you are a trained singer or have never sung a note in your life, this game accommodates you to translate your voice into a part of the game play. It’s only 5 hours long which includes some repetition, but this visually pleasing and enjoyable game is an experience that will be difficult to forget.
One Hand Clapping is available from December 14th on PS5 (review platform), PS4, Xbox One, Series S|X, PC, Stadia and Nintendo Switch.
Developer: Bad Dream Games
Publisher: Handy Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.