Life Goes On

$16.36

SKU: d03e009272b7 Categories: ,

Description

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Complete Review & Description

Most games tackle death in different ways. More often than not, it’s a means of punishing the player – a way to reset the game-state and start again. Life Goes On turns this concept on its head, and transforms it into a core mechanic. Alongside more traditional puzzle-platforming elements, developer Infinite Monkeys’ first outing is a charming, colourful experience. While some puzzles aren’t as well designed as others, the ones that are more than make up for it.

Life Goes On is a puzzle-platformer at heart. You’ll be controlling a disembodied suit of armour, pressing switches to open doors and circumventing hazardous traps. The kicker is that each time you die, your corpse stays in the location that you died at, and you spawn again at a checkpoint. Your corpse can then be used to progress through the puzzle – using it to keep a switch held down, or impaled on spikes to act as a platform.

Each puzzle has a par time associated with it, as well as a minimum number of deaths. Both of these give an indication as to the complexity of a puzzle, but also give you something to aim for. For 100% completion of a level, you have to find a hidden ‘Jeff’ – a fuzzy little creature that requires additional problem solving to reach.

The game is split up into different zones, each one containing a substantial number of puzzles. These zones have their own tile-sets, keeping the game aesthetically varied, but also hinting at the mechanics to come. For example, the Mine zone has rising magma levels and fire jets that burn your corpses to ash, while the Mountain zone has ice jets that turn your corpses into moveable ice cubes.

A lot of the game’s depth comes from these elements, and the way that they are meted out helps keep progression interesting. Early in a zone, you’re presented with a new gimmick, and you’ll be experimenting with it in different ways, seeing how it interfaces with the core mechanic of death. Killing yourself in an ice jet, pushing that ice cube into a switch, then using a cannon to shoot your corpse into another switch will become second nature to you by the end of the game.

Unfortunately, not every puzzle in the game reaches this standard. Some puzzles rely too much on physics, and less on the game’s internal logic. Rag-dolling a corpse from a conveyor belt onto a moving platform can be difficult, and jumping onto moving objects often requires more finesse than the floaty jumping controls allow. These niggly details detract from the sense of accomplishment normally gained from completing a puzzle, and makes me wish that the game had a little more magnetism, or “stickiness” to the physics.

Being so heavily focused on death, making the art colourful and cartoony was a smart decision. Seeing the corpses of knights with exaggerated, deformed proportions littered throughout a stage keeps the tone light, and helps make each death comical. This eases the usual gravitas associated with death, but also removes the guilt that the player may experience interacting with a concept usually associated with failure. The music, scored by Kevin Greenlee, is also worth mentioning. It’s explorative, inquisitive, and up-beat, it manages to capture the whimsy of the game and work in tandem with the art style.

After completing each puzzle (without aiming for par), the game clocks in at about three-and-a-half hours. While that sounds short, there is something to be said for a tightly controlled, honed experience. Each puzzle is just long enough to keep you engaged before you grow tired of the mechanics. Replay value comes from aiming for par in each stage, but also trying to find the hidden Jeffs in a level (a task which is a small puzzle in itself). I can easily see this game coming to handhelds (such as the Vita), where the shortness of each puzzle would complement the ‘pick-up/put-down’ nature of those devices well.

Cutesy and colourful, Life Goes On takes a core concept from most games, flips it, and embeds it in an environment with reciprocating elements. The result is an engaging puzzle platformer that delights more than it frustrates. The ending credits sequence is also one of the most charming things I’ve seen this year.

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