Life Goes On: Done to Death Review
With the death of a knight, life does indeed go on. For after each knight meets his demise, there is another knight set to follow and continue the quest for the next grail, following in the footsteps of the previous knight, or, more likely, walking over his lifeless corpse's back. And so it goes in Life Goes On: Done to Death, a puzzle game in which sacrificing a knight allows the next one to get closer to the goal, a bright shiny grail.
Like most grails, the grails in Life Goes On are all protected by an intricate series of traps. Unlike most quests, the goal isn't necessarily to survive all of the traps until you reach your goal. A pit filled with spikes might be too wide for a knight to leap, but if a knight can leap halfway across then the next knight can use his corpse as a platform. And what works for spike pits can work for plenty of other types of traps. Need to weigh down a switch? Drop a dead knight on it. Need to reach a ledge? Pile up a few knights and use the corpse heap as a step up. Can't quite reach a swinging platform? Fire a knight out of a cannon to make it swing higher. The game has a nice puzzle progression, so you'll see new puzzle elements like these added as you make your way through the game. Part of the fun in playing the game certainly comes from seeing the new traps the game has for you and discovering how to disarm them with your unfortunate knights.
While the primary goal is to reach the grail at the other end of the level, each level has three secondary goals as well. The first is to complete the level using fewer than a set number of knights. You have an unlimited supply of knights in the game so there's no penalty for using a lot of them, but it can be a challenge to meet the minimum knight goal. Even if you know exactly what you need to do to complete a level, you can mistime or misalign a jump here or there and pay for it with another dead knight. Plus the rag doll physics of the corpses sometimes means that they won't bounce the way you think they will. The next goal is to complete the level within a par time, something that is usually mutually exclusive with the minimum knights goal and that you'll rarely meet the first time through a level. When a level opens the screen will pan around it to give you a preview of what lies ahead, but it's certainly not enough of a look for you to plan ahead sufficiently to speed your way through the level. And lastly, there's Jeff. Jeff is a monster who lives somewhere on each level, more often than not somewhere off of the beaten path. Completing the Jeff objective is simple, assuming that you can figure out how to get to him, and that's to feed him one of your knights. You can make your way through the game by simply grabbing the grails, so the additional objectives are strictly optional and you won't have to replay any levels to achieve them unless you want to. Doing so will earn cosmetic upgrades for your knights such as new hats and help you earn all of the Trophies for the game.
I enjoyed playing Life Goes On: Done to Death. The game has a unique puzzle mechanic and a good sense of humor. It would have been nice if the game let you pan around a level on your own before tackling it so that you can do a little preplanning before tackling a level. The par times are just about impossible to meet without a second play-through because you'll waste a lot of time just trying to look around and see where the traps are placed and how everything is interconnected. It's easy enough to recommend the game to anyone who enjoys puzzle games of the trap/contraption variety, unless you're completely adverse to even simple platform mechanics in your games.
Final Rating: 86% - The game that proves that the best way to disarm a trap is to throw a knight into it.