Only Up! review: The ultimate test of your patience

Rishabh Sabarwal
Only Up player on rails

Viral game Only Up! has swiftly taken the internet by storm, captivating streamers from all corners of the globe and igniting a fresh trend in the online gaming community. While it’s definitely not without its faults and frustration, it’s worth a try for those new to the platformer genre.

In the ever-expanding world of platformers, a noteworthy addition has emerged called Only Up! – developed by SCKR Games. The game has quickly garnered attention for its captivating level design that pushes the limits of players while revolutionizing the very concept of ascending to new heights.

From the moment I ascended to the first platform, it became apparent that this game is not just another run-of-the-mill experience. With a delightful blend of precision-based movement, strategic decision-making, and a charming art style, Only Up! has elevated the genre to new heights.

Only Up locations collage
Players will come across a variety of landscapes on their way up.

Only Up! – Key Details

  • Price: $9.99 (USD)
  • Developer: SCKR Games
  • Release Date: May 24, 2023
  • Platforms: PC

Only Up! trailer

The Only way to victory is Up!

In recent years, platformer games have captured the attention of gamers worldwide. One such game that has left a lasting impact is Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, which has served as a significant source of inspiration for the newly released title Only Up!

In the thrilling world of Only Up!, players are confronted with an expansive vertical landscape that demands their determination and skill in order to emerge victorious in the game. In this immersive experience, players are thrust into the shoes of a resilient teenage boy who is fueled by a burning desire to break free from the confines of the ghetto.

At the beginning of the game, players find themselves thrust into a daring adventure, compelled to guide the protagonist on a treacherous ascent. Their mission? To successfully navigate a series of formidable obstacles that stand in their path.

From the moment the game begins, players are instantly engrossed in a mysterious world, which is seemingly frozen in time and beckons them to embark on a journey towards the pinnacle, high above the clouds.

Only Up Orange obstacles
The game throws unique obstacle courses your way, just when you think you’ve seen it all.

The controls for this game are refreshingly straightforward, requiring only the use of the WASD keys to navigate your character. Additionally, the Spacebar allows for effortless jumping, while the left Ctrl key conveniently enables crouching, proving particularly useful when traversing through challenging obstacles.

In addition to its captivating gameplay, the game also offers players the exciting opportunity to adjust their camera perspective. With the ability to seamlessly switch between front and side views, or even immerse themselves in a first-person mode, players can truly delve into the heart-pounding action and experience the thrill firsthand.

Down we go…again

Only Up!’s level design is where the game really shines as it elevates the fundamentals set by Getting Over It but in a three dimensional space. The game constantly introduces new obstacles, which makes each stage seem unique and challenging. When you finally get the hang of a certain mechanic, a new twist is thrown at you.

The challenge ramps up well, with new hurdles to overcome and gameplay mechanics that expand on what you’ve already mastered. Surprisingly, the right click of your mouse slows time, and this works well both while making greater jumps and when falling to the ground.

Player falling down in Only Up
The game does not have any checkpoints, which means once you fall you need to climb back up again.

On the literal downside though, there is no save system or checkpoints in the game. If you fall off a ledge or mistime a leap and don’t catch a piece of the map in time, you’ll plummet straight down and have to start your ascent over again.

You soon discover that even when you are on the cusp of victory in the game, you can suddenly fall back to the starting point, losing all progress and countless hours of hard work. This unexpected setback has left many feeling disheartened and exasperated.

Regardless, the game takes you on a voyage through a variety of exotic locales and cultural settings, as well as beautiful natural environments, but you can’t enjoy any of it since you’re always afraid you’ll fall down. During my gameplay, I was so engrossed that the only thing on my mind was keeping my character from falling down to the ground.

Test your patience in the most “broken” way

Only Up! is great fun overall, however, there are some difficult moments. While it took streamers like iShowSpeed and DrDisrespect many hours to beat the game, their rage was on full display while they did so.

The game’s controls and animations aren’t flawless, and there are hiccups every once in a while. My character walking straight was made more difficult by the frequent shifts in the view angle by the game’s broken camera.

Only Up Greek Biome
Only Up! features rich biomes themed around various cultures and time period.

It’s also possible to overlook a different route up because of how slowly different barriers are rendered until after you’ve already surpassed that height. However, the game also gives you a number of shortcuts, such as trampolines, railway carts, and a slipstream, to help you move up.

Additionally, there are a number of easter eggs hidden throughout the game that brilliantly blend pop culture, such as a painting of Freddie Mercury or the RV from Breaking Bad, giving players an exciting time climbing up.

Verdict – 3/5

Only Up! is an experience for gamers that tests their patience and keyboard and mouse skills to the absolute limit. In the genre of 3D platformers, this game is a decent entry and will likely inspire future imitations.

Considerable progress still needs to be made in order for the genre to provide a near-flawless gameplay experience. In order to achieve the status of a perfect platformer, the game must address a number of bugs and significantly improve its movement mechanics. These necessary changes are crucial, considering the immense dedication players will invest as they embark on this demanding and arduous adventure.

Reviewed on PC

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