Review

Life Goes On Review

  • Game release: April 16, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

Death becomes you.

by

Plan on dying a lot in Life Goes On. Not because the side-scrolling puzzle-platformer is particularly difficult--though it has its fair share of punishing late-game levels--but because its minion-like protagonists regularly fall victim to environmental traps of the spinning blade, spiked stick, and fire-spewing variety.

The game's heroes--tiny brave knights--continually meet their maker, sacrificing themselves so their sword-wielding cohorts can capture the sparkling chalice illuminating each level's end point. Of course, many games, from Pikmin to Patapon, put you in command of lemming-like characters that are prepared to gasp their last breath for the greater good. Life Goes On, however, pushes the concept of "taking one for the team" to new levels, not just encouraging you to accept collateral damage, but requiring you to cause these casualties to complete its challenges.

Spinning saw blades and flamethrowers--what could possibly go wrong?

Seconds after you fire up the game, your first knight is impaled on a bed of spikes; his fresh corpse is then immediately used like a makeshift stepping stone for a newly spawned hero. The self-sacrifice is jarring at first, because willfully throwing yourself onto a sharpened stake goes against the self-preservation skills we've been mastering since those pesky Space Invaders first blew up our blocky ship. But suicide soon becomes second nature when you discover that the quickest path to success is paved with many a dead guy and gal.

Life Goes On's early puzzles ease you in, maybe tasking you with jumping into a spinning saw blade before lifelessly falling onto a pressure plate that provides safe passage for your next knight. Things get clever quickly though, and you're soon stacking corpses like cordwood to coordinate and manage a variety of elements and factors that keep each level's Holy Grail-like prize out of reach. In addition to the aforementioned obstacles and traps, the little human sacrifices encounter swinging pendulums, seesaws, ramps, conveyor belts, lava lakes, and little monsters that fall into a deep slumber upon popping knights in their maws like peanuts. In addition, morbid fun is delivered via cannons that must be carefully aimed before firing their flesh-and-bone bullets into a grisly death trap.

Getting a little help from his friends.

While intentionally mutilating the clueless minions is great fun, solving Life Goes On's devious stages isn't as simple as just unceremoniously impaling, freezing, and incinerating these knights in shining fodder, er, armor. An especially clever touch is the inclusion of checkpoint-like spawn points; once reached, these glowing blue orbs become your next place to manufacture new knights. Things get tricky, however, when puzzles force you to reactivate previously used spawn points, or conversely, to avoid them altogether for fear of triggering them. Thankfully, Life Goes On gives you full control over your character, so you're never trying to corral an auto-walking avatar like in similar games.

On top of crushing the long-established convention that checkpoints equal permanent progress, the game tracks your time and the number of knights killed after each stage. Mercifully, Life Goes On doesn't put a limit on either, but both provide a nice bar for high-score chasers and achievement hunters to measure themselves against.

Many, many, many men will die to get that gold chalice.

A handful of levels are more frustrating than fun, and a few puzzle elements are recycled more than you'd want, but Life Goes On mostly keeps the challenge balanced and the progress well paced. New brain-benders--and fresh ways to solve them--are introduced frequently, but on a gradual learning curve, while the controls, which require just two simple inputs, are super responsive; even performing precision jumps, the bane of many a platformer, is effortless.

Things get tricky, however, when puzzles force you to reactivate previously used spawn points or task you with avoiding them altogether for fear of triggering them.

The game's greatest asset, though, is its sadistic sense of humor. Sporting a pretty presentation--complete with slick lighting, shadowing, and particle trickery--and packed with personality, the macabre concept comes off more charming than disturbing. Each knight has a name--such as the Cautious Maiden Pauline Cromwell--which is unceremoniously crossed off a scroll when he or she dies. And each carries a sword despite, apparently, having no idea what to do with it. Other whimsical touches include the single surviving knight pushing all his dead brothers and sisters in a wagon after each stage, as well as messages like "Pattern Recognition Precludes Victory" and "Messiest Victory Since Lemmings" accompanying your end-stage stats.

If you're violently allergic to puzzle games, Life Goes On won't miraculously cure you. But as long as you're open to the idea of having your mind engaged more than your trigger finger, this melon-twister's wicked personality alone might be enough to pull you into its death grip.

The Good
Inspired self-sacrifice concept
Packed with personality and charm
Clever puzzles, fun platforming
The Bad
Some ideas are repeated too often
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

More concerned with completing levels than earning achievements, puzzle-solving veteran Matt Cabral shamelessly sacrificed the lives of hundreds of brave warriors while playing Life Goes On. His Knights of the Round Table membership has since been revoked.

Discussion

20 comments
thorn3000
thorn3000

decent indie...good idea for a game mechanic, good atmosphere in the 'boss' levels, good, but reasonably achievable, secrets and time trials, I also liked the music...the big bad thing here is the length, with only 3 chapters and just a hour or two per one chapter, well, I completed all time, monster and soldier challenges and it did not took much more than 6-7 hours...if it had another 2 chapters, would have been a pretty great game

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Wonder if there will be a window licker named Corky in this one...

MAGIC-KINECT
MAGIC-KINECT

"THE BAD"


Some idea are repeated too often.


  ( the proofreader is bad at GS )

RedWave247
RedWave247

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

Especially if that means piling on the many's bodies onto a scale so the one can reach that next ledge. =D

RedWave247
RedWave247

As soon as I spotted this on the Steam store page, I immediately added it to my wishlist. It's definitely a future purchase for me. Looks like a lot of fun.

GSGuy321
GSGuy321

Looks and sounds amazing!

jhonMalcovich
jhonMalcovich

Wow, looks very high quality for a platformer. Will definitely get it.

unreal101
unreal101

Will definitely put this on my to-do list; looks like a lot of fun!

prats93
prats93

Yet another indie puzzle platformer, *sigh*.

talegone
talegone

Hum...in order to win...many have to lose.....

mdinger
mdinger

@prats93 It's true there a lot of these games around, and hopefully this one offers something new. Ones I remember fondly are Trine, Limbo, and The Swapper (the last one was particularly good imo). If this is as satisfying as those, I might give it try.

zeca04
zeca04

@prats93  Yeah... How dare they try to create different and fun games? It's not like there are tons of other indie different genre games 

thorn3000
thorn3000

@mdinger @prats93honestly nothing wrong with indie platform puzzlers...they are a genre, like shooters...only a much more fun genre

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

@zeca04

Only they aren't different anymore. They are like hipsters, trying to be different but in doing so they are all the same.

WereCatf
WereCatf

@zeca04 @prats93Well, he probably meant the fact that there are about a bajillion plus three 2D-sidescrolling indie-puzzle-platformers out there, released in just a few years. Indie-devs sure seem to love the genre.

Life Goes On More Info

  • Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • Unix/Linux
    Life Goes On is a comically-morbid platform game where you guide heroic knights to their demise and use their dead bodies to solve puzzles.
    7.7
    Average User RatingOut of 6 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Life Goes On
    Developed by:
    Infinite Monkeys
    Published by:
    Infinite Monkeys
    Genres:
    Platformer, 2D, Action