I love games. I love the way they constantly surprise with what they might do next. Who would have thought in the last couple of years I would be playing a Bee Simulator game or playing a game where I have to put together and make the best PC possible in PC Building Simulator. The indie market seems to always be on the lookout for games that innovate and deal with subjects that no one would ever imagine, and that is where we are today. In Life of Fly, you play as an actual fly doing what an actual fly does in actual everyday life. But there is much more to being a fly than buzzing around and landing on dog poo. These flies have souls and feelings.
Life of Fly is very simple to play, mostly as it is like a walking sim that sees you flying… like a fly. There are twelve chapters to enjoy as you take control of twelve different flies over the course of those chapters, and this means that there are twelve unique storylines to discover. The stories are really the heart and soul of this game too – it’s like picking up a great short story anthology.
Each fly tells a different story, both from its point of view and through the voice of an actor. The chapters have titles such as “The Scared Fly” or “The Opportunistic Fly”. Here the writer tells us – from the fly’s point of view – their views on life or the present situation they find themselves in. One fly tells a tale about how it got into a sauna, while another focuses on the breakdown of its relationship with a partner. There are heartwarming stories to be told, but also tragic ones; I personally loved the tale of a fly meeting another fly from a different land – they couldn’t understand each other but still shared a muffin and grew a friendship. There’s also a tragic story about one fly who grew up in a larder, which was like being in clover with all the food on offer, before it then escaped outside to a very different world.
The writing is really well-crafted and is quite possibly the best part of the game. It’s brilliant to hear these stories: they are humorous, sad, and hopeful all at the same time. It’s a fantastic concept, completely original and gathered up my attention from start to finish.
Gameplay-wise and Life of Fly pretty much works like any other flight simulator-type affair, moving your fly up, down, left, and right, rolling through tight corners. Honestly though, I never found the need to use the latter manoeuvre as the pace of the flying is quite slow. It takes time to get used to this pace too, and Life of Fly could well do with some option to speed up the flight path, especially later on. I guess that may interrupt the pacing of the narration though. Throughout, you have to fly through glowing circles on a journey around different locations. This might be that of a coffee shop or a bedroom or a sauna, and every time you hit a circle a piece of the self-narration kicks in. By the end of the story, the level ends, and you’re put on the way to the next one. And really that’s about all there is to Life of Fly.
You’ll no doubt find yourself finishing Life of Fly in just under an hour, picking up an easy 1000 Gamerscore in that time. It’s good that it is fairly enjoyable and relaxing to play, but I do imagine that those who might not be interested in storytelling – or can’t be done with slow gameplay – won’t get much from this languid type of playstyle.
Visually and it is much more interesting than I thought it would be. The locations themselves are the stars of the show rather than the flies. Here you might find yourself onboard a pirate ship, or in a child’s bedroom or, in one dark level, some kind of murder dungeon. All of these stages are interestingly designed, well-drawn with some great little details here and there. The soundtrack feels at times incongruous compared to some of the action or location on the screen, but the overall mood has a nice vibe and is relaxing in tandem with the gameplay. The voice-over actor who narrates all the different flies is compelling and dynamic and brings the world of the housefly alive.
I love quirky games that try something different, especially when they bring storytelling into the gaming arena, and that is the case with Life of Fly on Xbox. It’s short, but I don’t have an issue with that as it’s just long enough to not outstay its welcome. That said, the asking price is a bit over what it should be for a game of this size, and it’s probably safe to say that some won’t like the sense of pace, the lack of excitement, or the general fly-like atmosphere. If you’re after something very different though, then you can’t go wrong with a bit of Life of Fly.