Carnivorous plants spreading across the earth, causing terror and destruction? Sounds familiar doesn’t it? No, this isn’t The Day of the Triffids. It’s GREEN The Life Algorithm.
Unfortunately genetically altered vegetation has overwhelmed the earth, and humans have become an endangered species. You play as Zand, who is searching for his father and trying to unravel the mysteries behind the villainous vegetation. He is also partial to sharing his thoughts and insights every now and then to flesh out the story a little more.
Straight away you will notice that GREEN looks really pretty, with hand drawn backgrounds complimenting a cel-shaded foreground. However, the game will occasionally lag for a substantial period when you go to do something as simple as fire your weapon. This can prove deadly depending on the timing. This may just about have been forgivable if it wasn’t for the frequent loading screens that split up the action everytime you leave a room through a doorway.
The music in GREEN The Life Algorithm starts with a very foreboding and eerie tone, but when you start playing it becomes fairly dull and repetitive. It actually devolves into a combination of sound effects rather than an actual soundtrack, something which is on the lacklustre side.
You’re thrown straight into the game, and quickly get shown how to play. A is used to jump, X to shoot and RB in conjunction with the left thumbstick will allow you to aim your shots. They are the basics, however you’ll expand the control layout along with your repertoire of skills as you progress.
This brings me to my main issue with GREEN The Life Algorithm. The controls are, well, a mess really. Your character feels slippery and loose to control, which is not ideal for executing jumps with little margin for error. Not only this, but they can be unresponsive, and see Zand flying off in the wrong direction or falling into a deadly vine pit. This results in things getting frustrating pretty quickly.
What is particularly infuriating is that vines kill you instantly, and they are everywhere. They can be difficult to see when the screen pans out and thanks to the controls you’ll be killed often, even if you are sure you didn’t touch them. It quickly becomes a test of patience and endurance (namely not hurling the Xbox controller at the wall) rather than skill.
Where most enemies are concerned, it’s a simple case of three hits and you’re dead to start with. Your health is represented by your red triangular bar in the top corner which can be expanded if you collect upgrade orbs. There are healing stations dotted about which are actually pretty redundant. This is mainly because if you die, you’ll start at the beginning of the most recent room with three portions of health restored, usually after a load screen. So in effect you are checkpointed very often. There are no lives, ammo, scores or times to worry about here; it’s simple stripped back platforming.
Now would be a good time to mention that the nasty plants you are pitted against cannot be killed, only temporarily petrified. This is essentially GREEN The Life Algorithm’s unique selling point, if that’s not being too generous. Once petrified, some enemies will be crucial in you being able to progress, usually by them providing a boost to a higher platform. You will encounter the odd boss too, but again you’ll be employing the same tactics that you used to dispatch the smaller enemies.
GREEN The Life Algorithm contains typical platforming ideas, but struggles to implement enough of them well. You acquire abilities as you play, such as being able to wall grab, but it’s all pretty standard stuff. Throwing items is much more difficult then it ought to be as well. This turns the game into a repetitive dungeon crawler whereby you solve each “puzzle” of how to progress in the exact same way over and over again.
When you unlock it, clicking down on the right thumbstick will open up your map and diary. The map is simple enough, but the diary is a nice touch. This acts as a record of any notes, power-ups and enemies you have encountered or collected, and they are illustrated in a pleasing notebook style.
In terms of achievements that are attached to the Xbox version and I’m not sure if the developers were struggling for ideas, however I was shocked to find I was awarded 100 Gamerscore just for starting a new game. And the generosity of cheevo collecting continues throughout, which could be considered good or bad depending on your point of view.
GREEN The Life Algorithm on Xbox One is quite clear it’s about the experience, the look and feel of the game, as opposed to telling an epic tale of good vs evil. There are some basic story elements and a vague sense of mystery, but nothing too gripping. Unfortunately it’s hard to focus on this, as the clunky controls may have you turning from green to red. What results is an average, disjointed experience at best. At £10.49 it’s not the most expensive game out there, however due to the poor controls it’s still difficult to recommend.