I’d like to begin by telling you a little bit about myself. I’m single, I’ve been single for a long time, and I’m probably going to be single for the foreseeable future.

This isn’t a complaint on my part. I’m not begging for pity, or hoping for a relationship to just magically fall out of the sky as a result of writing this piece. I’m fine with being single, and I’m not desperately searching for a video game simulated relationship to take the place of the real thing.

However, I am about to spend  this entire article detailing my attempts at getting simulated women to go out with me. But I’m not desperate, alright? Got that? Good.

Here, I thought, was a game where if I played as a nice guy, there was no way I could fail. Oh, how wrong I was!

On a serious note, I do find something vaguely amusing about playing dating or romance simulators. There’s no way these kinds of games can act in any way as training for real life dating and relationship conduct, right? They’re a form of escapism, allowing people to forget their real life troubles and enter into a world where we’re whatever we want to be.

Hell, it’s the reason why so many people (myself included) fell into the trap of trying to date two different women without the other knowing in The Witcher 3. A game offered me the chance to be a douchebag, rather than the quintessential “nice guy” that I really am. Of course I took it.

One Night Stand 2

This week I played One Night Stand, a game that puts you in the shoes (or lack thereof) of a man who’s just woken up from a wild night out in a random girl’s bed with no idea who she is or how he got there. It’s a position that will be incredibly familiar to some, and completely uncharted territory for others.

The game promises six different endings depending upon the choices you make along the way.  Every word you say and every action you take will affect how the girl views you, and how she feels about you in the end.

Of course, the goal of a game like this is open to interpretation. If you want to get out of there as quickly as possible, then you’ll obviously play the game very differently to someone who’s looking to charm the girl and arrange a chance to see her again. Here, I thought, was a game where if I played as a nice guy, there was no way I could fail.

Oh, how wrong I was!

During my first playthrough, I was nothing but polite and respectful. The game offered me a chance to snag a quick picture of the sleeping girl, so I could gloat to my friends about getting lucky. I didn’t take one. When the girl left the room, I didn’t search through her things looking for more information about my mysterious lover. And of course, honesty is always the best policy, so when she asked if I remembered anything from the night before, I told the truth, even though it meant admitting that I didn’t even remember her name.

So, what were the results of my respectful, polite, nice guy routine?
One Night Stand 1

… Shit. I did everything just as I would have in real life, and it got me nowhere. Are nice guys just destined to finish last in this game?

I was determined to find out. I decided to jump back in to see what would happen if I acted as uncharacteristically “me” as possible. Surely she wouldn’t go for me if I was an absolute jerk to her.

This time round, I took a picture of the girl while she was naked and went through both her wallet and laptop while she wasn’t in the room. She was actually responding surprisingly well to the douchebag version of myself. My confidence grew, and I began to feel oddly certain that my roguish jerk routine was paying off.

Unfortunately, my newfound confidence didn’t last long. In fact it crash-landed; my idiotic behaviour backfired on me in spectacular fashion. I ended up being kicked out of the house like a stray that snuck in through the cat flap looking for scraps. The way I was behaving, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Emily Is Away

It’s a recurring theme. Evidently, no matter what I do in these kinds of games, I always lose. It brings back memories of playing Kyle Seeley’s Emily Is Away. The nostalgic throwback to my youth, which perfectly captured my teenage years spent communicating via AOL messenger, hit particularly close to home. In the game, no matter what you do, there’s no way you can ever get the titular Emily to date you. It’s a heart-breaking, but honest message – some things just aren’t meant to be and the “one that got away” in your life was probably one of them.

I refused to allow myself to be rejected in yet another video game. Somewhere between the nice guy and the asshole, there had to exist a persona I could play with that would prove irresistible to the girl I’d woken up next to. I decided to have one more try.

This time, I decided to stay naked, to make it clear I wasn’t looking to run out on her, but still went through her wallet and laptop so I could find out more about her. When it came time to ask if I could see her again, I asked if we could be friends instead. Maybe that was the angle I had to take to get her to like me.

So what was the result of my third and final roll of the dice? Well, she agreed to be friends, and we shared contact information. At first this felt like a failure, until I stopped to reconsider. Perhaps this was the finale I had been searching for all along and I simply hadn’t realised.

One Night Stand 3

Maybe I’d been looking at the game the wrong way the whole time. As it’s a video game romance, I assumed that at least one of the endings would end with you and the girl arranging to go to dinner together or see a movie. But who’s to say that has to be the case? Over the course of my repeated playthroughs of this game, I learned an important lesson.

Just like with some people in my real life, there’s so much I never learned about the girl. Maybe she simply wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. Perhaps the friendship angle really was the best ending. I mean, who’s to say what actually happened after the game ended?

Of course, I might be wrong. Maybe there really is an ending in which you can arrange a date with the girl, and I’m just not figuring out how to get there. That’s one of the cleverest things about One Night Stand. Every time you reach a conclusion, it asks you one final question – I wonder if this could have gone differently?

It would also be remiss of me if I failed to mention that this game was produced in only 3 and a half weeks for the NaNaRenO game jam.  Mind you, if I hadn’t mentioned that fact there’s no way you would have known. The animations are incredibly well done and the art style goes well beyond the standard you would expect from a lone first time developer. The developer, Lucy Blundell, (or Kinmoku as she seems to have dubbed herself as a developer) has also announced in a recent blog post that she is now working on an expanded version of the game, which she is aiming to make available on the Steam store.

The current version of the game is available on Itch.io as a pay-what-you-want deal, so feel free to give the game a shot and let me know how you get on. I’ll just be here, trying to find all six endings, to see if there really is one where she goes out with you.

… *sigh*… Always the bridesmaid, never the bride…

About The Author

Contributor

As a composer and video game enthusiast, Philip has spent years searching for a way to combine his passions for both music and gaming. Then, one day, he figured he could just write about them. He loves to over-analyse the way music helps to shape the player's emotional response in a game. He also loves to criticise bad control schemes, because... Well, they just get on his nerves.

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