Veni Vidi Morti
Life Goes On is a puzzle game about death. Not that it’s some complex emotion driven piece dealing with the subtleties and nuances of dealing with death, more that the main mechanic involves dying. You take the role of a number of knights sent by their king to retrieve a series of goblets. Unfortunately those goblets have been hidden throughout mountains, mines and a castle and those locations are peppered with deadly traps such as spikes and fire jets. Thankfully due to the king’s brilliance you have access to a portal so whenever you come across a little blue gem you can warp new knights in, but only one at a time, whenever the previous one dies.
It’s an odd concept but the mechanic is best explained by the first level. In terms of controls all you can do is run and jump, you have a sword but you never use it as there are no enemies, it merely serves to clatter off to the side as your lifeless body rolls around. In the starter area there is a pit filled with spikes that is too far to jump across. Of course you’ll try, since this is your first time playing and you don’t know how far you can jump. So you’ll plunge headfirst onto the spikes, thus ending the life of your first knight. Interestingly all of the knights have their names appear at the bottom of the screen, just in case you do want to form an ill-advised emotional link with them. Once your first knight has found his final resting place you’ll notice his body doesn’t disappear. This is a predominantly physics-based game so his corpses will smother some of the spikes, forming an unusually morbid platform that allows you to progress. A simple hop and jump over your deceased colleague’s corpse and you’ll be on your way.
As the game progresses over three worlds the traps increase in complexity, but the basics stays the same. You don’t get any new abilities but there are traps that electrocute you, freeze you, burn you, and even link themselves to your lifeforce, turning your death into a switch.
At the end of each level you’ll greeted with a little animation showing the number of corpses you needed to rack up to finish along with a few other stats that are linked to challenges. Most levels take less than a minute so there’s specific times for you to beat in order to get an extra little trophy, as well as a set number of lives to limit yourself too. There’s also a monster dotted around each level that you get a little reward for feeding on every stage.
The graphics for Life Goes On are reasonably simple but charming, everything feels a part of the world and there’s none of the ‘floatiness’ that you get in some indie platformers. The physics engine is mostly sound but there are times where the hit detection is a little off, particularly on levels where you have to fire your corpse around with a cannon, sometimes you’ll get stuck on invisible edges or bounce off at unusual angles due to hidden geometry.
The audio is absolutely outstanding neat little sound effects for every fatality you inflict on your army of heroes but also a spectacular soundtrack that changes up throughout the game. A lot of thought has clearly been spent on how the music should be set for each stage and during some of the more dynamic levels the soundtrack almost takes center stage with rousing and impressive tracks.
Overall Life Goes On is an impressive little puzzle game. It is reasonably short, we took two hours or so to finish the whole game (although we only met every challenge on the first world), and there aren’t many difficulty spikes. There’s a few puzzles where it’ll take a minute or two to figure out how to progress but there’s nothing particularly tricky as you’re just progressing through. It’s well worth the run through and little details like the level names, victory messages and even the odd little references to other games will keep you entertained all the way up to the incredible credits sequence. It’s rare we even mention the credits in games but these are a work of art, even rivalling Portal’s ending.