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Life Goes On (PC) Review

/ Apr 17th, 2014 No Comments

Life Goes On

Life Goes On started as a project born out of the 2012 Global Game Jam. Since then, the small team development team out of Alberta-based Infinte Monkeys has been working slowly on the game, releasing public demos occasionally.

Life Goes On is a puzzle-platformer for PC, Mac and Linux. Infinite Monkeys funded the game out of their own pocket. Life Goes On hinges on using the bodies of an endless supply of knights to clear a path to a chalice at the end of a level. This mechanic is used to excellent effect throughout the game’s various areas. Life Goes On is a satisfying and clever puzzle-platformer.

Gameplay

Life Goes On gives you an army of disposable knights to use however you see fit in order to achieve your goal, which is to reach the Cup of Life at the end of each level. To achieve this goal, you will need to learn how each different trap in Life Goes On works. This is accomplished by sacrificing plenty of your knights and using their lifeless corpses in clever and practical manners.

The game begins by throwing players into the deep end, dropping them immediately to their death on spikes. This teaches a very simple part of the game–when there is something you cannot walk on, all you need to do is use bodies to create a path toward your goal. By impaling knights, you can create a morbid walkway using their backs or heads as stepping stones to the next goal. This simple lesson has more applications with spikes placed throughout the game. Whether it is about using bodies to create walls that you can scale or using spikes to grip corpses on conveyor belts to drop them on a switch, spikes are a foundation to build your puzzle-solving skills in Life Goes On.
 

Life Goes On

Life Goes On believes in making players crawl before they run, allowing them to learn how each trap in the game works before throwing challenging obstacles at them.

The obstacles you face in the game don’t end with spikes. Eventually, the game adds in different elements to best you as you make your way from The Mines to The Mountains and finally to The Castle. Different dangers get introduced and layered in until you are contending with all of them at once.

Life Goes On asks you to learn that a moving saw blade can be the perfect way to weigh down a switch by using a limp corpse to act as an anchor. While certain elements are useful in killing knights, fire is generally something to be avoided. Figuring out how to turn off the heat is important to progressing through the game. Learning that using frost canons to encase a knight in ice and using the physics of a the cube is key to passing specific traps or triggering out of the way switches. Sometimes the only way to clear an impossible gap is to get a cube moving, jumping on top of it, using the momentum to launch it across the chasm and then jump off at the last moment to reach the other side.

Then there are the life contingent triggers that the game throws in at the very end just to make things more difficult. There are many more dangers and tricks Life Goes On throws at you. Generally, it will do this all at once. Maneuvering through these traps and combining different uses of bodies is necessary to reach the fabled Cup of Life.
 

Life Goes On

Sometimes the answer stares you in the face.

The game does not try to trick players; it shows them how to use all the elements of the game successfully, trusting them to combine those elements in intuitive ways to solve the puzzle. This firm adherence to a set of rules makes solving puzzles extremely satisfying. The only time it plays with its format is during the credits, it would have been interesting to see it try more of those tricks during a post-game set of levels or a remix to the main levels with more gotcha type traps.

Graphics & Sound

Life Goes On has some rough edges, mainly in the look of the knight models. They have a certain charm to them with their disconnect limbs giving them a Rayman vibe, but there is something about their look that seems off. It is a minor quibble since knights are mainly fodder to solve puzzles. To their benefit, they do animate well and look good when they are impaled on spikes, burnt to a crisp or frozen alive. Realistically, the game would work just as well with basic wire frame models, but it is helps drive the humor of the game that they aren’t.

Where the game excels visually is in strong level design and environments. There is a good look to the game’s three areas. Each area allows the game to throw the knights into some fresh and interesting levels with new elements and more difficult puzzles to solve.
 

Life Goes On

Physics, yo.

Music, provided by Kevin Greenlee, has a light-hearted and whimsical feel, which works best contrasted against the gameplay’s dark mechanics and the medieval aesthetic. What makes the score work well is how it mixes different tempos and moods to give off a sense of variety. The true test for music in a puzzle-oriented game is if it gets stale after hearing it over and over. That never happens in Life Goes On, so it is very successful.

Overall

Life Goes On is a solid game providing an enjoyable experience crafted around a clever mechanic and smart level design. The mix of puzzle and platformer elements make for a fun time. The true mark of a good puzzle game is the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when solving a difficult puzzle. Life Goes On achieves that effect easily.
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Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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LIFE GOES ON (PC) REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall57%

GAMEPLAY8

Life Goes On blends puzzle elements with a platformer base to create fun and interesting levels. The game features a good mix of levels to teach players the basics of different elements and levels that challenge players to put all they have learned to the test. As with any game with puzzle elements, there is a sense of achievement for clearing and solving a difficult level/puzzle. Life Goes On's corpse mechanic is delightful to use and master.

GRAPHICS7

The game looks solid. Life Goes On contains three different areas full of puzzles and each area offers its own unique visual flairs. The game does a great job at level design and constructing a good variety of levels within each area and between the areas. Mileage on the look of the knights' models will vary, but they have a certain charm to them.

SOUND8

Life Goes On has a great soundtrack. There is a good light hearted feel to most of the music, which contrasts well with the morbid nature of the gameplay. Musically, Life Goes On features a good mix of songs. At certain points it sounds very Game of Thrones-y in the best way possible.