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Laserlife Review

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There was a club that I used to go to in the mid 90’s called Laserlife. The music was a mix of trip hop and Brit pop, the drinks were a pound and there was a meat raffle on a Tuesday night. Laserlife the game has none of the above, except the trip hop music, but it does feel like a game, much like the club, which is set firmly in the past.

Its roots are based on games like Rez and Child of Eden. A rhythm based action shooter that mixes its dance beat trippy soundtrack with even more trippy visuals. The story involves a mysterious cluster of alien beings finding a dead astronaut from earth floating around lifeless in space. The aliens capture this skeleton in a space suit, probe his DNA and perform an investigation into his memories to find out about his human existence from the cradle to the grave. Why the hell the aliens are doing all this we will never know. Maybe it’s like a hobby, collecting floating expired spaceman, like we have trainspotting or stamp collecting. There are other questions left unanswered as well. Why it involves funky beats and grabbing objects in order to retrieve said memories is not for us to ponder or worry about however. The gameplay is what this whole experience lives and dies by, so lets start with that.

laserlife review pic 1

Each memory, there are twelve in all, consists of the recollections of the astronauts childhood, young adulthood and being an actual astronaut right before his death. You control two laser lights with your right and left stick on your controller. Each memory consists of three levels of action, the first level always involves you grabbing memory orbs flying at you from the left and the right, with you moving in the direction of the orbs (up, middle, down) in order to collect them. The second levels consists of you flying your laser lights through small rings in a certain time with a limited amount of lives. The final level consists of you just guiding your laser lights through the correct path, avoiding bad memories and pathways that will kill you. After that you unlock one of the dead astronauts memories from the past, where by it’s a teddy bear, a dog, a house or the space shuttle. Rinse and repeat twelve times.

Now by reading this review, this might sound to you as the most boring game under the sun and part of you would be very right in that assumption. But you need to give Laserlife a chance because yes it is very samey, however I still found the whole experience compelling. Maybe it was the addictive, repetitive nature of collecting orbs in a sort of hypnotic state, or just the slow grind that kept me going, wanting to progress further in the story. Anyway something did, some part of the gameplay made me carry on and before I knew it the game had been completed two hours later. Yes it is that short.

laserlife review pic 3

So graphically what does the game offer apart from the little orbs and a red and blue laserlight. Well the nature of the gameplay is on rails so the backgrounds just move in a pre programmed way around you. Like pretty wallpaper, some very pretty wallpaper indeed with the sea sections and also some very bland wallpaper in the future space sections. There’s nothing here that shouts out new generation console exclusive, but it’s not broken and it’s pretty well designed.

The soundtrack is the essence of the game and indeed the actual beating heart of any rhythm based shooter. The question is, does it live up to the expectation a game like this demands? Well the music is exactly what you expect it to be; soft beats, bass drums and new age trip hop keyboards. It really works with the gameplay, as you collect the orbs to the dance of the music – double collections of the orbs seem to change the octaves or nature of the track. Until you play it again you realise the music is on rails like the graphics and isn’t effected by how good or bad you are in the game, which is a shame. Also there doesn’t seem to be anything fresh here, some great tracks and some…mmm…tracks. I would use my nightclub from the late nineties analogy as a reference point. It feels very much of that world, one in which time hasn’t moved on and we are all looking forward to the first Lord Of The Rings movie.

laserlife review pic 2

As previously touched on, Laserlife is very short. Two hours from start to finish isn’t a long stretch for any game and the possibilities for expansion here are all there. I didn’t have to play any level again due to any form of difficulty and it’s so well known that I am officially one of the worst gamers in southeast London, that they once gave me a prize. For a game that is over the ten pound mark in a crowded Xbox One Indie market, consumers expect much more game for their buck these days. There are online leaderboards for each level and if you’re in to that sort of thing you can become number one by putting in the grind. One hell of a grind!

Overall then and Laserlife is a game that is well presented with solid design, bringing back happy memories of playing a Rez type game again. It tells an interesting story, but never passes over that line to greatness because it falls a lot short of what it could have been. It would have been better if there could have been a better interaction with the music and the gameplay, a LOT more levels and MANY more tracks. As such, a recommendation comes about if and when the game drops down in price in an Xbox sale, as it was an enjoyable compelling journey even though the experience was a very short one.

Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.

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