[Game Review] A New Life

Have you ever wondered about the multiple algorithms life has for each person on this Earth and wondered if you could live them all? A New Life helps you do just that.

A New Life is a new game just recently released by the Serbian indie studio Bigosaur. It’s a game of many lives where you get to pick the choices of how your character lives their life; you get both perks and consequences for each choice, and each playthrough is different because the stats you get every start of the game changes to ensure a completely different and randomly generated person, regardless of gender, and difficulty (which I’m not completely sure how it affects the game).

Gameplay / Controls

a new lifeOn the left is your starting point, you have 10 stats all randomly generated, but you have the power to increase or lessen them depending on the amount of “karma” you have, which you gain every time you finish one life. It follows an average American life, and depending on your Wealth (or so I’ve noticed, I may be wrong), you’ll be living in different areas of America and if you exceed the average US life expectancy (which is 78), you get a bonus.

Once you start, as an infant, you are able to choose between two choices that will affect the kind of person the sim will become. Something as simple as either “Put[ting] down” or “Throw[ing]” a toy will be among the first few choices. Every choice affects certain stats, however it isn’t exactly explained as to why; it’s different per person, and doesn’t always affect the same kinds of stats.

a new life
I had no idea what this meant. I clicked “A New Life”, wondering if I’d play a new game, but nothing happened, though I got a boost in Experience.

Would have been a nicer touch to at least explain how it directly affects your sim, unless the main goal of the developers were to challenge your imagination and reasoning skills however sometimes the results and/or the choices seems nonsensical and absolutely random, so if there was something happening under our noses, it would have been really cool to have brought that to light.

Your character ages every turn, and from infancy, you become a toddler and choose whether you like making friends or not, etc., then go to a certain type of college of your choice (or not even), and later live on your own.

This is generally how the game works, other than surprise events and surprise choices; it is very similar to the Game of Life board game or other kinds of simple simulation games. All you do is make choices, aka tap the corresponding icon which also leaves you with more limitations, say if your character is dating someone, you will only get certain kinds of choices relating to them if the choice comes up. Sometimes you are unaware that you’re even dating somebody. In one play-through, I had the option to divorce with my in-game wife. It probes your imagination by guessing what could be going on in the character’s life, and doesn’t make you completely in control, which is only a good or bad thing depending on whoever’s playing. It’s also really nice that you get to “relive” your character’s life by providing a bio at the end of the game.

a new life

Story

Just disclaiming that the only consistent story here is that your character lives, goes to school, goes to work, then dies, or lives until 78. Everything else is determined by you. (So if you decide to do sports while your athleticism stat is low, there is a high probability of getting yourself killed early.)

In my first play-through, I played Kimberly Palmer. I honestly thought it was a glitch or the game was just following a general flowchart when I was given the choice to make-out with a girl. Afterwards, the gender symbol changed and I found out you could be a lesbian. I liked the game a whole lot more at this point, also because it explores a lot more of what people would classify as the “darker” side of life i.e. exposure to drugs, “shady money”, and fraud. Definitely not a game for everyone. I would probably say it’s PG-15, or in the ESRB rating, for Teens. It make me think about my own life choices, and how much my hypothetical Health stat would lower every time I drink with friends, but obviously real life isn’t a game.

I found it a bit funny how they incorporated some stereotypes; Kimberly is a character I sent to Julliard and was a singer. I was given the option to do certain things (ahem, illegal things) and in the rest of the characters I’ve played (communications college/health sciences/science & technology graduates) except a vocational college graduate, that never showed up, however it largely depends on their financial situation, based from what I’ve seen. Since I’m no American citizen, I’m assuming the developers followed statistics since choosing a “Gun” option may not automatically mean you’d kill someone (which is what most people from the Philippines or other places would assume) since it seems that it’s normal for Americans to have guns in their homes to use for self-defense.




Sounds

You have a couple of background music playing on loop and none of them are annoying at all. When I first heard the main theme, it reminded me of all the life simulation games similar to this (although much more complicated) that I used to play as a kid. I sadly cannot remember the titles of these games, but I’m glad that the music wouldn’t be the least bit annoying, though in case anyone else does find it annoying, there’s a mute button provided on the top right. There are some sound effects for the numbers and the stats, and also a weird one in the starting screen (with the silhouette of a baby) where the sound of a mouse (the animal) is made when you touch the top part of the screen, and also for when certain events occur. I’m just sad I can’t play music on my phone while I use the app.

Graphics

a new lifeSimplicity seems to be the major theme here, everything matches the feel of the game, using silhouettes for each person works, and the icons used for the choices are cute and cartoon-y, although I don’t always immediately know what they are. I’m thankful for the descriptor below it though I have to wait at least 1-2 seconds before it shows up. I’m also glad they used these vector/clipart-like photos, because using real ones would have given me a “4-pics-1-Word” feel, not that it’s a bad thing, but it’s nice that A New Life won’t have to be compared in that aspect (assuming other people would have agreed with me). Some of the descriptors are misspelled but nothing terribly bad. “Pinneapple” is only one out of the four that I’ve spotted.

One other thing I’d like to point out is how each silhouette changes depending on your age range.  I found it a bit funny how they depicted the people. There is a choice in the game that makes you choose obesity over prostitution (I know, right?). I picked obesity, and well, my character died after that because of kidney failure but the silhouette didn’t change. Since they’re already tackling different kinds of sexual preferences and causes (racial equality, etc.), it would have been a nice touch to also include weight. For the women’s route, as soon as you become a senior citizen, you are suddenly bigger and wearing a muumuu despite having a high level of athleticism. Would have appreciated a tad bit more of consistency with variety, maybe? But it doesn’t really affect my overall opinion on the game.

Conclusion

a new lifeThis game is interesting and is the somewhat serious kind of fun. It’s very simple and easy to learn. It doesn’t take forever to finish one character’s life, and the Experience counter makes me want to keep playing just to get higher scores. There’s also an Achievements page which makes you want to accomplish more, in cause you get bored of playing, because I’ll admit it does get a little bit tedious at some point, but the surprise choices and events you get in the game lessen that feel. It’s a nice casual game that can get you absorbed when you want to pass the time.

Over-all, I do like this game, but I think it could have done better especially since it’s not a free game on the app store. Though despite that, I’d still recommend other people to try it out.

Rating: 7 / 10

A New Life is available in the App store for $0.99. Watch the trailer here!




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