The King has seen the face of death and decided he doesn’t want that, death is so boring after all. So he sends his knights on a valiant quest to recover the Cup of Life so he may be immortal. Sure, many of them will die, but who cares? Life Goes On, after all!
Genre(s): Platformer | Puzzle | Adventure
Developer: Infinite Monkeys Entertainment Ltd
Publisher: Infinite Monkeys Entertainment Ltd
Release Date: May 2016
Played: Full Campaign
Purchase At: Steam
Life Goes On has a simple premise: The King doesn’t want to die, and to attain immortality he sends his legions of knights to retrieve the Cup of Life for him, knowing they’ll die in countless numbers before that happens. But he doesn’t care and neither should you! Life Goes On is a bit of a morbid puzzle platformer, where you die and use the bodies of your deceased companions to get a leg up, sometimes literally so. There isn’t a plot and you don’t need it, because the puzzling, the humour and the many ways in which you can kill the knights are what matter.
Life Goes On plays over a series of acts, each introducing new mechanics and increasing the complexity of its puzzles. The first few rooms have simple ones dealing with spikes, stepping on the corpses of your buddies, and then burning their remains to ash with flame jets. But as you carry on, you’ll get new mechanics and best of all, variations on early ones. For example, you use spiked conveyor belts at some point but then later on you have a switch that hides the spikes and makes it work like a regular conveyor belt, and it’s up to you to figure out the best way to use it, the right timing to switch from one form to the other. The spiked one keeps the bodies nailed down, but the conveyor belt gives the cadavers momentum and can even launch them across long distances.
What I like about the puzzle design in Life Goes On is that it’s never overwhelming. You’re never out of your depth. Even at its hardest—and trust me it gets very hard later on when you have to combine all mechanics together—it’s never impossible. It never feels unfair and you never have to fight the controls. Platforming is tight in Life Goes On, and even playing on my keyboard, I felt the controls were perfect.
I once heard that the difference between “challenging” and “frustratingly difficult” in a game is how much time it takes between the death and trying again, and with instant respawn for the Knights, it’s never frustrating, particularly because it doesn’t matter how many of these poor wretches you kill, there are always more. This endless number of mooks to sacrifice gives the game a relaxing feel, as you can take as long as you want on it.
But if you’re looking to test your skills every level has two challenges to beat: a target number of knights killed and a target time. Much like golf, you can get par by hitting the exact numbers in the challenge or nice shiny silver medals for being under par. Getting them is optional but usually unlock cosmetic effects on your knights, specifically new hats and weapons, from a Pope Hat and Morning Star to a Fireman’s Cap and a Fish, and every combination in between.
These elements reinforce the wonderful humour present in Life Goes On. Infinite Monkeys Entertainment built the entire game around this crazy morbid premise and just made sure to keep the humour going throughout the experience. From the use of bodies as puzzle solutions, be it dropping corpses on switches or turning a knight into a rideable and movable ice cube, you’ll be chuckling your way through the different missions. But that’s not all, every time you unlock a new item you get a funny message on how useless it’ll be, and even the names of the cups you find in each level are hilarious. Have I mentioned that every single knight has a unique name? At least I never saw any repetition.
Visually, it’s wonderfully colourful, which helps you not take things too seriously. But what I really liked is how every new mechanic is essentially colour-coded, with red for fire, purple for the magnetic zones, blue for the freeze clouds, etc. This helps you quickly identify the different elements in a puzzle and gets you thinking on how you’ll tackle them.
Every act in Life Goes On has a handful of tunes that play out in the levels and while there is some repetition, for the most part I didn’t mind it, as I was too focused on the puzzles, so the music while good, fell to the background. But then I reached the floating isles act and the music in those is amazing, a wonderfully calming melody that played really well with the environment’s design and created a nice contrast with the mayhem in the level. With that one in mind, I went back to play other levels, to focus on the music and realised they all fit the act’s theme very well, sometimes creating a nice bit of atmosphere. The collapsing castle stage in particular had a moody tune that I really liked.
There is minimal voice acting, mostly just dying screams but there’s some variety in them and you never get tired of the grunts and painful shrieks. Or it might be just me.
Life Goes on is a wonderful puzzler. It plays to its strengths and keeps you laughing while you mercilessly butchering these knights to overcome devious puzzles and claim a plethora of useless cups!
5/5 – Hell Yes!