Like Phasmophobia, Among Us and BattleBit Remastered before it, it’s time for a new indie game to blow up on Twitch and keep thousands enthralled for at least a day or two before something else comes along. This time around, it’s the turn of Only Up, a bizarre game about climbing your way into the sky.
Like a lot of games that suddenly make it big on Twitch, Only Up has a lot of familiar touchstones. While there’s no pot or hammer, the third-person game is highly reminiscent of the beloved curio Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, but in 3D; there’s a strange pseudo-philosophical commentary from the main character as you ascend into the clouds, and instead of dying when you fall, you simply dust yourself off and start again from wherever you landed. And like Getting Over It, Only Up is sadistically, infuriatingly hard despite the straightforward format and technically short length.
More directly, developers SCKR Games cite the classic fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk as an inspiration on Only Up’s main character of Jackie, a teen who must run, vault and mantle their way up… out of poverty, apparently?
The game is as simple as its name, as you clamber your way up across a variety of environments from train tracks and pirate ships to planes, floating islands, statues and more. As well as climbing, you can slow down time or change the speed of Jackie to help you make more difficult jumps. (You’ll need it.)
Despite Only Up’s mixed reception on Steam – with a number of reviews criticizing both its gameplay, lack of a save option and the pretty gross inclusion of NFT references on the character’s jacket and other imagery throughout its levels, raising questions about the devs’ relationship to the maker of Goblintown NFTs (which now sells an Only Up hoody) – thousands apparently have been tuning in to watch playthroughs on Twitch.
At the time of writing, around 150,000 people are watching Only Up on Twitch, with the biggest streams bringing in tens of thousands of concurrent viewers. Some of those streams might not last very long, either, with the current record for completing Only Up standing at under 21 minutes. Good luck beating that without wanting to unplug your computer forever and spend the rest of the evening having an angry cry into your keyboard, though.