One Hand Clapping Review
One Hand Clapping is not as obscene as its name would have you think. The game incorporates a brand-new control scheme: The microphone. But before we get to that, let's talk about the story.
One Hand Clapping has you following a blue little guy we will henceforth call Blue. Blue begins their journey in Silent City, a place where it seems that sound is banned, and the residents don't take too kindly to Blue singing up the place.
Why do I say "seems"? Because the game incorporated exactly zero lines of dialogue, which meant that I had to guess what was happening off of the reactions that Blue has, which is most predominantly terror. You will meet many kind friends along the journey, such as Pink (another made-up name), Yellow (you guessed it), and Cat (gotta keep everyone on their toes with these models), all of which say nothing but bond with Blue through singing.
The first level works as a tutorial and does not take advantage of the incorporated microphone feature enough to really judge the game to this point. Silent City has you utilising your voice (mostly just whichever sound the microphone picks up) to move boxes vertically and some platforms horizontally. The fun doesn't actually begin until later on in the game, with the second area, Duet Desert.
Duet Desert has you meeting Pink and doing, you guessed it, a duet with her. This is where One Hand Clapping begins taking advantage of the microphone feature, forcing you to hit high and low notes. You must sing along with her song, and hold the note for long enough until it turns gold to be able to advance.
Now, I'm no singer, I can't tell my A notes from my Zs, but I was capable of sort of keeping up with Pink; keyword being sort of. You see, I don't think I've sung once in my life where I've listened to my own voice and thought to myself that it sounded even mildly decent. I wondered if my lack of expertise with singing and hitting both high and low notes would become an issue later on in the game, and — spoiler alert — it did.
The game — although based on singing and hitting the right notes — didn't catch the notes properly. If I had a bad microphone, I might have just blamed it on that and moved on, but the Blue Yeti is capable of catching my voice in all of its out-of-pitch glory, and immediately upon looking at the Steam reviews, the most helpful one has someone complaining about the same issue.
Now, it's not terrible. I'm definitely willing to admit that chances are, most of these problems are caused by me being out of pitch, but it didn't make for the most enjoyable experience on some of the puzzles presented in the game.
To remedy this, the game has several accessibility options present, such as being able to change your range, which I did several times in hopes of finding the most suitable one, but eventually concluded that I just couldn't hit the range the game expected me to comfortably. And that's what my main problem is with One Hand Clapping.
It does offer other options that should ease the player's journey throughout the different levels, but none of them were capable of facilitating my inability to reach the highs and lows the game expected me to, despite revisiting the range calibration menu several times. The one option available is skipping the puzzle altogether, but it felt wrong and as if I'd accomplished nothing if I kept just skipping each of the puzzles.
Aside from the wonky pitch problems, One Hand Clapping has a unique art style that is pretty to look at; no elements felt overwhelming at any point in the game. However, from a game oriented around the use of vocals as a control scheme, I was excited to see what beautiful soundtracks I'd be presented to, only to reach the unfortunate conclusion that they weren't that great, to begin with.
Most of the puzzles will pick up the audio that you did for them in the microphone and repeat them to create what I guess would sound like a "melody" if I didn't sound like a dying goose that was shoved into a washing machine. The game failed at making me feel like an accomplished singer (which I'm fine with) and instead made me continue feeling like dirt for my inability to sing (which, again, I'm fine with, but someone else out there might not be). I ended up making silly noises into the microphone that classified as the range required to be able to pass the puzzle so I didn't have to hear the disgusting deformity that came out the other end, and instead, I'd be able to laugh at it.
The puzzles range from "make one small sound, even a tap on the microphone, and it'll finish", to "you were out of pitch by a decibel so now you're screwed"; I loved every puzzle that was in the perfect middle between these two.
I believe One Hand Clapping could be a great game, especially for the audience it is intended to, but some things limit it from being good for a wider-spread audience. If you enjoy music and understand it, the game might be great for you. If you're a complete noob at music such as myself, consider skipping this one.
One Hand Clapping (Reviewed on Windows)
Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.
One Hand Clapping has the right idea but was executed somewhat poorly. For a game centred around music, the audio design truly was a disappointing factor.