One Night Stand
Developed by: Kinmoku
Published by: Ratalaika Games
Category: Visual Novel
Release date: Oct. 4, 2019
How do you get to know someone? Usually, you’ll start by introducing yourself in some way. Exchanging names and going from there. What if you woke up in bed with someone, unable to remember anything at all about where you are, who you’re with, or what happened the previous night? That’s the premise of One Night Stand, a visual novel by Kinmoku.
Waking up to the sound of a buzzing phone early in the morning, nursing a hangover from the night before, you quickly realize that you don’t recognize where you are. What’s more, you don’t recognize the woman in bed next to you. Using clues around the room and discussions with this mystery woman you’ll attempt to piece together what happened the previous night and who you’ve found yourself with.
As you investigate, you’ll find clues or your own belonging which you can use to advance conversations and uncover more clues about this mystery woman and the previous night. A single playthrough of the story isn’t enough to uncover every clue though. The game has multiple endings, each dependent on the objects you interact with and the way you steer the conversation. Since you can complete your first ending in about 20 minutes, depending on your choices, it is quite easy to replay and see as many or as few endings as you wish to uncover the full story of the night’s events.
One Night Stand takes place (almost entirely) in a single bedroom, which you’ll spend ample time poking and prodding the room in the spare moments you have alone. What can you discern from her shelf full of English textbooks, or her impressive vinyl collection? Asking her about these items will unfurl a surprisingly deep backstory for such a short experience. The characters feel well developed right away and interact as awkwardly as you might expect, given the circumstances. While trying to sneak out of the house, I actually felt a bit of guilt for trying to leave without a word because the characters feel natural.
After subsequent playthroughs and finding more information, my thoughts on the girl changed and left me wondering more about what actually happened the night before and if I should actually be more concerned about the situation I found myself in. Everyone will leave the game with their own interpretation of events, which is where a great deal of the pleasure can be found in the game. You won’t get an answer to everything, but you’ll get enough information to start to draw your own conclusions.
Assisting the characters realistic presence within the game is the rotoscoped animations that are used with an art style reminiscent of the Take on Me music video, but with more color. It’s not an animation heavy game, being a visual novel, but a nervously moving portrait brings more life to the game than a still one would in this case. Despite being a limited space for you to explore, a lot of character is communicated just by quickly glancing around the room, without even investigating. It feels like a room that one of my friends would have in college.
The audio is slight, only tuning in when diegetically appropriate. There’s no voice acting, which is fine. On subsequent playthroughs, you’ll skip through much of the dialogue anyways to get to new sections, and they’re relatively short. Skipping the inclusion of voice acting is wholly acceptable here because the other aspects of the characters are so strong that voices aren’t needed to convey emotions.
One Night Stand is a compelling story about strangers trying to make sense of the actions that brought them together. The characters are well developed, surprisingly so, considering the amount of time you spend with them. By the time you put the game down, you’ll still be trying to piece together what you thought happened and coming up with your own theories. There’s a surprising amount of depth to this short experience.