One Hand Clapping Early Access Review: The Voice

Bad Dream Games latest innovation is a platform/puzzle where you have to use the microphone to solve puzzles. One Hand Clapping Early Access is out 10th June 2021.

One Hand Clapping Early Access is unlike any other game out there. Encouraging you to use your voice with an equipped mic, you’ll casually sing, talk, or even tap the mic, if feeling shy, to manipulate the environment.

The main controls are the keyboard or controller, but you have to create some sort of noise to activate devices. As a platformer, this isn’t anything special, but fused with the input from a mic, it turns into a memorable experience.

From Bad Dream Games and HandyGames, this is essentially a puzzle platformer in the Early Access stage. There may be bugs, you are warned at the beginning, but that’s expected at this point. So, how does it fair: gimmick or innovative?

One Hand Clapping Early Access Review – PC via Steam

The beginning of this review was going to be a flurry of anger as it took a good hour or so to set this up. It’s impossible to play the game without a mic, almost like playing a game without a TV or monitor. 

One Hand Clapping Early Access Review - Silent Hill... Night...City
Silent Hill…Night…City. Source: Steam

No doubt you don’t want to read about the issue, so in short, Windows 10 had the mic disable under the privacy settings – interestingly not located in the sound tab.

Unlike Before Your Eyes, where you could opt out of using the webcam (though the best experience is with it), you can’t opt-out here

Anyway, the motivation in getting this together was playing with my youngest child. I was unsure whether the characters would be cute or not (they are), but the concept of singing to solve puzzles was a perfect opportunity for us to play together.

Though you have to have a mic, you don’t have to sing into it and make a noise. When we played together, she would sing random tunes, but toying with One Hand Clapping Early Access while she was at nursery, it felt a bit stupid singing on my own, so I tapped the mic. 

One Finger Tapping

As per the Before Your Eyes reference, the best experience would be to sing, but if you’ve ever sung in a karaoke booth on your own while your partner goes to the toilet, you’ll know it’s very awkward.

Playing with my daughter was a beautiful experience. With the controller, you move left and right, and can also jump onto ledges, but it might as well be a hop as it’s very lacklustre, and plenty of occasions where you’ll underestimate a jump to only repeat it.

One Hand Clapping Early Access Review - The bells
The bells. Source: Steam

The journey begins in Silent City, where you have to light up the area by singing (we’ll assume you’ll be doing that). A gauge appears on screen, and pending you fill it, the scene will fill with light. Hesitate, though, and some shadow-like creatures similar to those in Spirited Away will appear.

Hearing my little girl sing and watch us solve a puzzle together in real-time was genuinely a wonderful moment. Tweaking the settings a bit, we increased the volume of the mic and heard her voice echoing around town, followed by plenty of giggles. Yes, very Disney princess-like, but… as a co-op, which it isn’t, it’s a potential rage inducer.

Use Your Outside Voice

Our first hurdle came when we needed to sing then stop each time the shadows arrived. Unable to do this, my daughter had to sit still while I tried. Just as we got to the top of the gauge, she said, “well done, Daddy!”. The puzzle restarted.

On my own, it wasn’t as enjoyable. That’s no detriment to One Hand Clapping Early Access as a game, but you get what you put in: if you aren’t going to sing, it becomes a bit of a chore

Poor parenting, but I was annoyed and decided it was time to play alone, despite working on this one together. The puzzles aren’t particularly taxing at first, and the focal point really is on your voice and not a gimmick, but it’s not a game that younger gamers can play on their own due to the slight difficulty for them.

The best way of analysing it is like playing a fitness game with joy-cons and finding a loophole instead of doing the whole action.

While you can get a good score sitting on your sofa waving your hands slightly, it’s not the same as standing up and completing a full workout. The same applies in One Hand Clapping Early Access, as if you don’t fully utilise the microphone as intended, it takes out the element that makes it so unique. Besides, tapping the mic is unpredictable.

Pitch Perfect

And this is where the game shines – not through the problem solving, but the way One Hand Clapping Early Access gets you to reach a specific range. Though it’s not a singing coach nor covers music theory, it gets you out of your comfort zone, if an introvert, and experimenting with your tone. 

One Hand Clapping Early Access Review - King of the hill
King of the Hill. Source: Steam

At one point, it became apparent that I had to sing rather than tap, reaching high and low notes. The latter wasn’t an issue, but fortunately, the two floors between us prevented my wife from hearing me sounding like I was having a breakdown.

Getting mildly embarrassed in front of no one as I couldn’t hit the required sound (you can calibrate everything in the settings menu), I knocked the mic, which aligned with the pitch I needed. Back to some tapping to save face, methinks.

But that calibration is pretty accurate, and switching to the menu for each player to adjust the parameters was a breeze. That said, some of the puzzles do require patience and multitasking with the controller and your voice. It’s not that you have to hit particular notes, but getting the timing right is critical.

One Hand Clapping Early Access Review Summary

One Hand Clapping Early Access shows a lot of promise, mainly because it’s innovative and not a gimmick. While the platforming sections can be a little meh, it makes up for it in the challenges with your voice. And no, you don’t need to be good at singing whatsoever – grunt if you have to. However, as mentioned, you get out what you put in.