Life Goes On

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I've killed the main character in whatever game I was playing a lot of times over the years. I'm probably responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of Mario deaths. Solid Snake has listened to the shout of the Colonel as he's passed away many times. In Limbo, the nameless main character died for my sins 256 times. Never have I been so rewarded by these deaths until I played Life Goes On.

Life Goes On is a puzzle platformer where you proceed... by dying. The very first level you play, your knight jumps in, immediately lands on spikes, and passes away. Your next Knight jumps in, uses the corpse to protect itself from the spikes, and continues on.

And this is what you come to expect from Life Goes On. While you can get bonuses for completing levels with a small number of Knights, or in a small amount of time, there's very little motivation to do so. At one point, rather than jump over a set of spikes, I simply walked across it, building up a pile of corpses until I could walk all the way across. In another case, trapped with no solution, I simply froze my Knight in ice dozens of times, eventually causing the ice blocks to fill up to the platform I needed to reach and allow me to pass through.

With death a key component of the game, we can move on to the puzzles with nary a worry about the success rate of any particular movement. Life Goes On's puzzles start out simple, but grow increasingly complex: requiring a combination of switches (triggered by your character or one of its many corpses) to enable platforms, disable fire, move targets, and more.

Every 15 minutes or so, you'll grow the complexity of the game a bit more, adding elements like anti-gravity beams; cannons to fire your character in a particular direction; or conductive switches which trap your Knight in place in order to complete a circuit.

The puzzles are challenging, and the environments are fun. The running list of names of Knights you've killed -- a combination of heraldic titles with the mundane -- serve as an additional source of amusement, from Marchioness Mallory Butler, Cat Historian to Governer Clayton of the Beta Quadrant to The Unacceptable Enfante Sarah, Alchemist.

With goofy environments, and fun puzzles, Life Goes On is a solid play. The only slightly lackluster point in the game for me was the music; while some levels, especially later levels, contained rousing soundtracks, I found the music in early levels to be a bit underwhelming -- but it did not take away much from an overall excellent experience. (I'll admit that I have been spoiled by recent games like Unravel.)

Life Goes On: Done to Death is available on Steam for Windows and Mac. The standard price is $13.