Indie Quickie: Life Goes On

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

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What is it? Death is the only way to achieve success in this humorous side-scrolling puzzle-platformer.

Who made it and where can you get it? Originating as a 2012 Global Game Jam prototype, Life Goes On is the first release for the Canadian team Infinite Monkeys Entertainment. Buy it on Steam for $12.99. (Or $9.74 for a limited time during the Steam Summer Sale.)

How much did we play? Sent nearly 100 knights to their demise on the way to besting 25 of the game’s more than 50 stages in an hour and a half of play time.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements or other details you should know about? Its knights may die easily, but I didn’t notice any chinks in this game’s armor.

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Why should you play it?

    If you’re into puzzle games, by now you have most likely played titles like The Swapper and Project Temporality. (If you haven’t, go do so. They’re pretty great.) Life Goes On is similar in that it involves the use — and in this case abuse — of clones as its core puzzle-solving mechanic. Only in this game the subject matter is treated in a playful manner fit for gamers young and old.

    I like to think of Life Goes On as a sort of medieval Rube Goldberg torture device. The game involves sending selfless (or is it clueless?) knights with goofy names like Lady Shanice Manly and The Ambidextrous Cody Taylor one by one through trap-filled rooms in order to claim the mythical Cup of Life. Technically, they aren’t clones, but rather branches on the family tree of Jim the Prolific. These knights will do Jim’s bidding, which for the sake of this game means sacrificing their lives and bodies so that the next in line just might make it to the end alive. Leaping a knight onto a pit of spikes turns the corpse into a safe platform, while skewering a knight onto a spiked wall creates a ledge to climb up. The corpses of these brave souls are also used to weigh down pressure plates, travel on conveyor belts, conduct electricity to power on nearby devices, and shoot out of cannons to reach areas beyond the reach of a regular jump, among other wicked things. Puzzles start out fairly straightforward, but before long you’ll be up against some devious and rather cruel contraptions that will require plenty of brain power and experimentation by mass suicide.

    A number of bonus objectives set the game up for high replayability. The first time through you will probably take your time and waste as many lives as it takes to reach the end of a level. Once you know the solutions it’ll be hard to resist venturing back into previous stages to earn the challenge stamps for finishing within a time limit and without using more than a specified number of lives. A fuzzy little critter named Jeff is also hiding somewhere in each stage and is only collected by sacrificing a knight to be his dinner. In seeking the Cup of Life, Jim’s cruelty knows no bounds. As one of the level completion one-liners states, “If this is what victory looks like, I’d hate to see defeat.”

Parting Thoughts: So far I haven’t found anything about this game that I don’t like, because, well, it’s just so gosh darn likeable. The puzzles are creative and well thought out, the platforming controls are tight, and the dark sense of humor — from the ragdoll corpses to the cute cries of agony — establishes a mood of devilish fun throughout. The game doesn’t even clog things up with an unnecessary storyline; it dumps you straight into the first mission, aptly titled “Straight to the Point,” and keeps you engaged with clever gameplay, a steady difficulty curve, and a wonderful “Aha, now I’ve figured it out!” sense of accomplishment. Life Goes On is morbid and sadistic in nature, and yet the overall tone is actually kind of whimsical. They may be marching off to meet their maker, but the brave little knights sure are adorable all armored up, the lighthearted background music letting you know not to take their impending doom seriously.

Disclosure: A free Steam key for Life Goes On was provided to VGBlogger.com by the game’s developer.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!