By: Jeff Cater
Life Goes On: Done to Death, by the folks at Infinite Monkey, puts a unique and welcome twist on the puzzler/platformer genre by adding in slight roguelike elements to a hilarious and vibrant game. In it, you are to guide a knight from Point A to Point B, but never is it that simple.
Tons of traps and hungry beasts lay ahead, and the only means of conveyance is often stacking up the bodies of fallen knights (attempts) to build a bridge over the bullcrap. Or setting them on fire and burning something down. Or chucking them head first into a saw blade to send them flying onto a pressure plate. Or… well, you get the idea.
I literally have no complaints here. The mechanics are simple enough because you’ll only be using about three buttons the entire time. Jumping with X, activating levers and switches with Square, and moving about with the left thumb stick.
Response time in your jumping and movement is truly spot on, and you’ll never have to worry about the control scheme killing you. Just about everything else will kill you though, but in Life Goes On that’s definitely a good thing.
While the early game backgrounds tend to be a bit same-y in palette, the game quickly opens up to wider levels with comical and menacing tones blended together quite well. The animation sets for your knights are nicely detailed and all have a bounce of whimsy in their inevitable steps toward certain doom.
Plus, if you beat certain challenges in any given level you’ll usually unlock a unique piece of armor or weapon for your warrior to wield (even though attacking anything in this game is strictly out). These additional character pieces will be assembled randomly from your pool of unlocked items, leading to some rather interesting characters presentations.
The soundtrack is pretty great as well, complementing the light-hearted world before you. There’s little spoken dialogue other than the grunts and screams of perishing knights, but the game doesn’t really call for it at any point and doesn’t really suffer from the lack of.
Before you lies a pit of spikes. About 10 feet forward is the pressure plate that activates a platform that shifts left and right over a pit of spikes even further away. Jumping is out of the question. Climbing? No, sir. What about jumping and climbing on bodies of fallen relatives? Sure! Sounds like a blast!
Sometimes it’s a gas. Sometimes it’s a deadly electrical current. Whatever the obstacle, the main way to negotiate the trials is to heave as many knights as necessary to their deaths in order to make body bridges. Or body ladders!
See, when you screw up and die in a bed of spikes, the body will stay there not only as a reminder but as a tool. Dead bodies persist through the duration of the level and are to be used to solve puzzles. Maybe you need to heave a body onto a conveyor belt while simultaneously climbing a pillar of dead guys in order to turn off a flame thrower that’s about to torch the first dead guy (so many dead bodies).
Throughout the game, the puzzles remain fresh and extremely challenging. As most puzzlers go, you can get stuck on a level for like an hour, take a short break, come back and smash it in one go. And this is a game that is incredibly welcoming whenever you decide to come back.
As far as puzzlers go, Life Goes On: Done to Death is one of the top tier picks for me this year. It has a thoroughly enjoyable atmosphere and concept with a lot of comic relief in play to keep you level headed even when you probably shouldn’t be.