Ah yes, the game of life; the sixties, starting with a board game in which you did your best to live the dream life of a nuclear family. You know: Get married, have kids, earn a pension, etc. The players who have the most points at the end of the game win. Over the years, the classic game is still around, but it has also evolved into a spin-off (I have a copy of The Wizard of Oz myself), and since the late 90s it has also found its way into the digital board game market. Now the folks at Marmalade Studios, who make very affordable versions of classic board games, have taken The Game of Life and improved it to the point where it can be considered a complete sequel to the game, and appropriately named it The Game of Life 2.
Game of Life 2 is clearly an adaptation of the classic board game, but it has more depth and certainly a certain charm from the start. The game offers several game modes including single player, pass mode and several online modes. So there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy this game with bots, friends or strangers around the world, and even cross-platform players on their phones.
It only takes a few minutes for Life 2 to work its magic on you, as you customize the Meeple character with a few fancy equipment options, and choose one of several cartoon cars to drive around the set. From there, you can choose a theme where you can play with traditional Game of Life art, or opt for a ghost painting or fairy tale aesthetic instead. It should be noted that these issues go beyond a quick exchange of assets. Your quests and the many events that take place over the course of the game are also themed according to the option you choose, giving the game an extra breath of fresh air after playing a handful of games.
From 1 to 4 players, with processor or personal control, you can start the game with different difficulty levels and time durations. Two player games usually lasted 10 to 15 minutes and were the ideal quick game without having to invest a lot of time as many board games do. Another interesting feature is that the game fully supports and even adapts to the touch screen input user interface. Although using the Joy-Cons worked well, I and my family enjoyed the touch experience the most, thanks to the clear, large and accessible icons that allowed for a smooth transition from one game to the next.
The board itself is presented in its entire environment, and the path of the board spans hills, rivers, and more. In the course of the game you will encounter stopping points where your path will deviate and you will have to make decisions. Will you focus on your career or start a family? Do you have children or work for a promotion? While many of these options may seem a bit outdated, they’re certainly not foreign, and again, we’re talking about a classic board game here. Some subtle but nice modern updates are that if you choose to get married, you will be given 3 Meeple options, each with different outfits: suit, wedding dress or a combination of both, which will provide suitable options for most.
As you make your way to the finish line and your eventual retirement, your actions determine your results in the three categories displayed on the player dashboard. If you lead in any of these areas, you get a crown that you can keep as long as you remain in the lead, and keeping that crown at the end of the game means extra points. If a player crosses the finish line before the others, he must increase his bankroll or earn more points in the three life categories. So it’s another strategy to not stay on the board too long if you can avoid it.
At the end of the game, all points are counted and the winner is announced. You also earn puzzle pieces in a number of categories that are important for unlocking new content such as cars, character outfits, etc. These are basically achievements, and once a categorical achievement is completed, the next one is revealed until you complete the entire puzzle, which reveals said content, which is a surprise until it is revealed. I personally enjoyed this reward track because it freshened up the game after playing a few games with my family. The only downside is the $29.99 price tag, which seems a bit much considering the content offered. To fully enjoy the game in the long run, you’ll need to pay an additional $19.99 for the Season Pass.
Game of Life 2 is not a particularly deep strategic board game in digital form, so expectations should be tempered, but what it does do well is faithfully build on the classic core of the game and polish it up with an expansion of some rules and features. This is a solid casual board game that is perfect for the whole family.
The game of life 2 Report
- Graphics – 8/10
- Sound – 7/10
- Playability – 8.5/10
- Complaint pending – 6.5/10
Final thoughts: GREAT
Life 2 takes the classic board game and gives it a new look with different themes and an updated and engaging gameplay. With the ability to play as you please with friends, strangers, or just solo against CPU opponents during your lunch break, the game impresses with its cartoonish graphics, responsive touch controls, and fast gameplay turns. Game of Life 2 doesn’t disappoint any age group that wants to throw themselves into the game and see where life takes them.
Alex has been involved in the gaming industry since the release of Nintendo. He turned his hobby into his profession, spent just over a decade developing games and is now the creative director of the studio.
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