'Laserlife' Sends You Into The Memory Of A Dead Astronaut
October 1, 2015
You knew the day would come when someone would blend aliens, memory, and rhythm games together. Ok, maybe you didn't know that was coming ... but it's here! Laserlife is the latest game from the crew that brought you the loveable, but challenging Bit.Trip series. It blends some really abstract ideas to create a game that centers around exploring and reconstituting a dead astronaut's memories. Yeah, it's weird, but it's also a little wonderful.
Developer: Choice Provisions
Publisher: Choice Provisions
"Choice Provisions" might sound like a name that you've never heard before, but it's very likely that you're already familiar with some of their amazing work. Formally Gaijin Games, purveyors of the Bit.Trip franchise, Choice Provisions recently took on a new name, and began crafting games like Woah, Dave and Laserlife. While it's clear that the company didn't change their philosophy, or their core game mechanics that they've come to be known for, Choice Provisions is the next chapter in the lifecycle of this already successful and admired development team. If you end up a fan of Laserlife stay on the lookout for their next game, Tharsis, coming later this year.
Aliens. It's aliens that are at the root of Laserlife. You have to piece it together from the game's brief opening cutscene, but an extraterrestrial ship has discovered a long-dead astronaut, and they are trying to use their technology to learn about this mysterious creature. The analog sticks on the controller direct two lasers, which the aliens are using to reconstruct the mind and memories of the astronaut. Each memory is constructed by going through three, stages with rhythm-based gameplay. First is the Memory Molecule Collection section, where the player has to try to capture bits of memory by flying into them, and pulling the triggers to collect each one. Later stages also include catching, and flicking these memory molecules, which vastly increases the difficulty. Phase two, Memory Harmonization, is slightly less challenging, as all the player needs to do is to line up the lasers with the targets as they pass by. Things change up again in Warp Phase, where players need to keep their lasers from hitting the protruding red sections of the walls. The cycle is complete with Memory Materialization, where all of the captured memories are passed through the astronaut, and you get to see what he or she was remembering. At first glance, this structure may sound fairly easy (and it does start off that way), when the trippy music, and visually distracting backgrounds (something Bit.Trip fans will appreciate) are rolled in, Laserlife becomes an edge-of-your-seat race to the end of each memory.
Choice Provisions have brought their trippy trip through the deepest recesses of the mind to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam. Anyone with those platforms, and two thumbs can enjoy this space adventure. (And really, even if you don't have two thumbs, you can play too, it's just going to be a bit more challenging.)
Laserlife is a strange game, but it's also pretty good. The only things that really hold it back are the repetitive gameplay, and that it's pretty short (like a couple hours short). But really, both of those things tend to be inherent of the genre. Over the course of the couple hours of gameplay, the game builds its difficulty well, and pushes players to amass stars, and high scores, which should bring most people back for at least a couple of retries of some of the more challenging levels. Bit.Trip fans will embrace everything that they have come to expect from Choice Provisions, from the challenging, well-paced gameplay to the added distractions of outlandish scenery. The game's narrative is a bit out-of-this-world, but given that the goal of the game is to reconstruct the memories of dead astronaut that's floating through space, it's forgivable. Ultimately, Laserlife is a nice, brief diversion, but it isn't going to hold your attention for the long term, but it will grip you while you're playing.