Frustrating climbing game Only Up! grows popular among Japanese streamers
Indie game Only Up! is catching on with streamers in Japan. The game was released on May 25 and has continued to grow in popularity, despite its singular goal being trying to climb ever higher up into the sky.
Only Up! is a 3D action game available for PC (Steam). It was developed by SCKR Games, an indie game studio that seems to be based in South Korea. In the game, you control a teenager named Jackie, who lives in the ghetto. The world has become twisted, and the buildings and other structures stretch high into the sky. In order to escape from this gloomy environment, Jackie aims to climb up above the clouds.
The gameplay involves using platforms or other structures to climb up as high as possible. And…that’s about it. There aren’t any difficult puzzles to solve or any NPCs to interact with—you simply try to climb to greater heights. However, the gameplay does create a high feeling of tension as you climb, since moving along the narrow footing requires careful maneuvering. And if you fall, you need to start climbing again from that exact spot. Although there are certain shortcuts, having to redo your climb every time can be quite grueling.
As you might be able to tell from the concept, Only Up! takes a lot of influence from Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, both in the high difficulty and the way that you have to start over every time you fail. Adding to that, the flowery narration tends to be irritating, and the game is jam-packed with frustrating elements.
Only Up! has simple controls, but one unique feature is the ability to slow down time by right-clicking. This helps cut down on careless mistakes, and will allow you to overcome tricky obstacles if you play in a slow and methodical manner. That said, things continue to get more difficult the higher you climb, and falls become more punishing, so there’s no doubt that the game will put your skills to the test.
The game has also become popular among streamers. Since around June 3, the number of people streaming it has increased rapidly (TwitchTracker). Even just within Japan, the game continues to grow as a variety of streamers and VTubers play it. On the other hand, when you look at the concurrent player count on Steam (SteamDB), things have been fairly constant, with a peak of just under 3,000 players per day over the last week. These numbers certainly look a bit underwhelming when you look at how it’s been rising up the ranks among streamers.
The reason for this may be that Only Up! is mainly popular in Asia (Japan in particular) and has yet to reach the super popular western streamers. It also has a Mixed status on Steam based on user reviews. While the game is an interesting experience, it has a huge number of bugs and issues for a full release. The game is also poorly optimized for PC. It’s difficult to work out the hit-detection range of objects, which leads to falls, and there are many other elements like this that hinder the gameplay. The negative reviews that mention such aspects have likely had a less than ideal effect on the game’s sales.
But if these performance issues can be addressed through future updates, the game may just experience an even bigger explosion in popularity. The developers have already released numerous updates following the game’s initial launch, including some bug fixes and adjustments to mouse sensitivity.
As an aside, Only Up! tends to be quite sluggish if you launch it with the default settings. Turning off the option for shadows will mean that sunsets will no longer be rendered, but it will run a lot better. Hopefully, this information will be useful for those who have bought the game and are having issues with performance.
Written by. Marco Farinaccia based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-06-14 15:44 JST)