Developer: Choice Provisions
Publisher: Choice Provisions
Release Date: September 22th, 2015
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on a PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
When we die, what happens to our memories? Choice Provisions, creator of the popular Bit.Trip series, wants to ask a tough question. Can their duel stick rhythm game actually answer it, or should it go back to a philosophy class?
Laserlife starts with a dead astronaut floating in space. As he floats an alien craft hovers over his body and begins to look through his memories. The main plot of the game is about reliving the astronauts memories, and you’ll go through his childhood, adulthood, and eventual death. Sadly, Laserlife never really lives up to its promise. The story is rarely interesting. The information you find out about the astronaut is minimal at best (he had a dog. That’s… great to know?) and no real story ever comes out of it. By the end of the game I could tell you exactly the same things about the astronaut that I could tell you at the beginning: he was an astronaut and he is dead.
Each song in Laserlife (all of which are original songs) is broken into three parts, each of which plays uniquely. All three parts follow the same basic controls: you control an orange light and a blue light with the two analogue sticks and your goal is to make them pass through various items. For the first part of the song I had to guide them into orbs and tap the triggers when the lights hit them. Sometimes I also had to hold down the triggers or move orbs after grabbing them. The latter two was always a pain as I felt like the orbs would constantly “slip” out of the lights for no determinable reason. I could never figure out if it was because I moved too fast, or if I didn’t move the right way, or what. Also, for some strange reason, there’s only 3 variations on the first segment despite the game having 12 songs. This means you’ll be repeating each variation 4 times, which seems like a really strange choice in a rhythm game.
The second segment is the longest and most important of the bunch. All I had to do here was guide the lights into some discs. It was very simple, but it plays along to the music much better than the first part and it’s the part that is the most unique of each song. All 12 of the songs have their own unique musics, visuals, and disc layouts. The final third segment is the shortest segment and involves dodging walls while the lights travel back to the astronaut’s body before you have to put the memory back into him by rotating the sticks.
Yet the end of the second part, and the whole third part, shed light on the game’s biggest weakness: the scoring system. As you collect orbs and discs you’ll earn points and raise a multiplier up until it hits 40x. Yet even with the high multiplier the amount of points you earn is almost nothing. You get the vast majority of your points from the very last part: putting the memories back. In fact, if done with a full multiplier, that one part is worth over half of your total score. With over half of your score determined by a single part, you can have a perfect run, hit a single barrier anywhere in the third part, and be stuck with the lowest rating as you won’t even have enough points to get anything higher. There’s no way to get your multiplier back if you mess up at the end. The score promptly becomes meaningless: either you get a three star rating because you got to the end with a full multiplier (even if you missed half of the notes in the first part), or you get a one star rating because you didn’t.
Laserlife’s fun mechanics are let down by it’s awful scoring system and repetitive parts. Its story promises much and never delivers. It’s a shame, Laserlife is a cool idea, but this game isn’t going to show up in any of my memories.