Released on April 17th of this year, Life Goes On is a platformer where you sacrifice your character in order to use its corpse to solve a complex series of puzzles. In March Nicole Oquendo looked at an early build of the game for us in her piece “Life Goes On: Preview“. Since then Life Goes On has been expanded to include over 50 levels and Steam Achievements for you to morbidly enjoy.
Once you play Life Goes On for the first time you’ll quickly come to realize the name is quite fitting to the actually gameplay itself. You’re given control of an anonymous knight whose task is to make his way through a dangerous world filled with a large number of sharp objects and deadly machines. Each knight is a disposable asset that seemingly exists only to sacrifice itself to further the progress of the rest of the group.
To solve the puzzles you’ll need to analyze the layout of the area and figur0e out how to kill yourself in a way that might benefit the knight that comes after you. Flinging your body into a bed of spikes on a wall might allow the next knight in line to use your corpse as a makeshift ladder. Climbing into a cannon and shooting yourself into a wall might allow your body to ricochet into a convenient position resting on a switch that turns on a machine. Life goes on indeed, just not your life.
For my time at bat with Life Goes On I played through the same series of levels that Nicole Oquendo played through in her preview. I was then able to continue on and experience a slew of new challenges that reminded me of how good I am at dying a lot in video games. New levels and environments in the release build really kicked the puzzles into high gear. If you’re really bad at video games and tend to die a lot, you’ll probably really enjoy Life Goes On. Dying is actually encouraged and this gives the game a sense of morbid exploration that feels quite unique as far as puzzle platformers go.
The good news is that completing the puzzles is always possible because you’ll never run out of knights. But, completing a puzzle with less than 6 knights for example might be a tremendous challenge. For expert level puzzle gamers, each level in Life Goes On has a par that you’ll need to meet or beat to obtain the highest marks. Additionally, each level features a mysterious furry creature named Jeff that has a taste for overly ambitious knights that explore where they shouldn’t be. Reaching Jeff is oftentimes a puzzle unto itself and may require you to play through a level more than once to reach Jeff and come under par. Both goals add an appropriate level of difficulty to each puzzle.
During my time with the game I really enjoyed the morbid fun that came along with doing a puzzle incorrectly and watching the aftereffects of my decision. Whether it be prematurely turning on a machine and causing all of your meticulously placed corpses to burn in a fire or misjudging your ricochet and simply cannoning your knight into a wall for absolutely no reason, Life Goes On does an excellent job at making you laugh and feel slightly guilty about it after.
Even as platformers go the controls are quite simple, you can jump and if you are close enough to something you can grab hold and climb it. To some players the simplicity could be seen as a fault. What the game focuses on instead is introducing new ways to kill yourself and use your body as a tool, for example levitating your body or freezing it in a block of ice. In later levels, rather than learning to crouch, wall jump, or swing your sword your new abilities are granted by the deaths of your comrades.
If you’re looking for a unique take on the puzzle platformer genre you should definitely take a look at Life Goes On. Grim humor and interesting puzzles keep the game fresh throughout the 50+ levels of gameplay. Until you’ve personally rode the back of your dead compatriot over a moving bed of spikes you’re probably missing out on one of the simple joys of life.