Dying in video games isn't always a bad thing and in Life Goes On, you use your army of knights' corpses to solve puzzles. Intrigued? Let's waste our lives and find out if it's any good.
As you can tell, the concept of Life Goes On: Done to Death is incredibly innovative. You'll begin the adventure by impaling knights on spikes that you can use as stepping stones then gradually get introduced to new mechanics as the adventure moves forward. The learning curve is implemented wonderfully as you'll rarely ever get stumped. By the time you reach the final puzzles, you'll have to do some seriously critical thinking but nothing is ever insurmountable. You'll end up freezing knights to form blocks of ice, shooting corpses out of cannons at buttons, dropping the dead from spiky conveyor belts with perfect timing, and using magnetic fields to attract or repel their suits of armour. But, why are you doing this? The king wants the Cup of Life so you have to retrieve a goblet at the end of each stage in the hopes that it's his sought-after treasure. Overall, with such nifty core gameplay, you're in for some fantastic puzzle-solving action.
Life Goes On: Done to Death doesn't look that impressive. The knights that you control are all identical with the exception of minor details like their hats and weapons. Environments are also unspectacular. You'll traverse mines, ruins, icy cliffs, and castles but nothing really stands out. There are some added details that are fun such as how each knight's name is displayed at the bottom of the screen and they all have their own voices. On the audio side, the music consists of generic medieval fanfare while the sound effects are quite satisfying. Upon finishing a stage and hearing the little path get built to the next one, it's hard not to smile.
One of the best parts of Life Goes On is its stage design. Each puzzle is carefully crafted to be challenging yet not too convoluted. Certain stages require you to do some guess work but even they're fun to complete. My favourite parts are when you have to string together different mechanics in order to advance. Freezing a knight only to repel him with a magnet to jump off a ramp and land on a button to stop a fire just feels awesome. Seeing as there are dozens and dozens of stages to master, you're looking at a very lengthy campaign chock full of great puzzles. On top of that, you can replay stages to accomplish certain goals such as finding hidden creatures, beating par times, and using as few knights as possible. At the end of each area, you'll have to work your way through a boss stage. These are quite cool as they involve such tasks as escaping an erupting volcano and running through a collapsing castle.
Although the boss stages are fun, I wish there was more variety in the campaign. All you do is solve puzzle after puzzle and that gets kind of stale after a while. If there were bonus stages such as mini-games, races, or anything that played around with the established gameplay then the journey would be a lot more immersive. My only other complaint is that the physics can often be frustrating. Watching a corpse move off its path because you didn't center it completely is nothing short of maddening. This could have been remedied by implementing preset paths. Basically, thinking of how to solve the puzzles should be 100% of the challenge but being forced to ensure everything is pixel-perfect adds unnecessary tedium. To be clear, this didn't happen too often but it was annoying when it did.
Life Goes On: Done to Death is one of the best practical puzzle games that I've played in a while. Although it doesn't look like much and can occasionally be irritating, any puzzle enthusiast will love the time they spend slaughtering these poor helpless knights.
- + Innovative concept that paves the way for awesome puzzle gameplay
- + Brilliant noodle-scratching stage design
- + Loads of puzzles and challenges to master
- - Physics can be frustrating to deal with when objects move in unexpected ways
- - Presentation is mostly cookie cutter
- - Campaign could use more variety