When Laserlife, a rhythm action adventure game was announced from the developers of Bit.Trip and pitched as “an interactive biography about a dead astronaut floating through deep space who is discovered by future intelligences who have no concept of humankind”, it was enough to gain some attention.
As you play as one of these “future intelligences”, you have the technology that is able to extract the physical elements of memories, so you set about doing it.
The memories are collected by traveling through the dead astronaut’s consciousness. To collect these memories, you take control of two beams of light that are controlled by using the analogue sticks, and pressing the triggers as you guide the light through the memory fragments. (Left trigger for left stick, right trigger for right stick) Each memories stage is divided in to three sections. The first section is a level where you move the beams of light, through shapes (memories) and press the triggers as you pass through them to collect. As this is a rhythm game, this must be done in time with the beat of the music. The triggers on the Xbox One controllers are very good for many things, firing a weapon and accelerating a car for example. But, are less than ideal to use when trying to collect memories with perfect timing. The game also lacks audio feedback, every memory portion that is collected plays out a weak hi-hat strike that feels at odds with the ambient soundtrack, rather than enhance it.
After completing the first section, your aim is to then guide the streams of light through panels that appear in front of you. Then the final stage is set in a tube that has barricades. Your aim here is to successfully guide the two beams of light through the barricades without smashing in to them. Now the three stages are done, the only thing left to do is spin the analogue sticks to draw the memories out of the dead astronaut and turn them in to a physical object. A toy to represent childhood, and so on.
Unfortunately, Laserlife is a very promising sounding game, but doesn’t really live up it. The game itself can be very repetitive, with each memories stages being played out almost identically to the previous. Progression through the stages of the memories seems almost like an inevitability, rather than a challenge. That does mean that the game is accessible to practically everyone though, but also means that the game will have very little to keep you coming back.
The controls of the game aren’t the best either, holding both thumb sticks outwards for the duration of the level isn’t the most comfortable thing. The story doesn’t live up to expectation either. You know the ending, the astronaut dies. This, in addition to the memories you collect are very sparse and don’t really add anything to the story or answer any questions you may have about his life. The standout of the game though is the radio transmissions between the astronaut and Earth that can be heard during later levels. Although this may be due to repetitive gameplay and n unengaging story.
Laserlife’s concept is very interesting to begin with, but the way the game is presented through the two hour campaign is so limited, it’s not really memorable. Playing as a “future intelligence” is also intriguing, but finding out a dead human once owned a teddy bear, or lived in a house isn’t really surprising, or interesting to the player. Some will be addicted to the simplistic, easy too pick up gameplay and high points can be found. But ultimately, repetition and a poor choice of control schemes will put off a lot of players.
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