Small independent developer EpiXR Games uses the gameplay mechanics from their own exploration game Aery and sets it in a new world, a much smaller one to be precise. In Life of Fly, the open exploration aspect is narrowed down and got replaced with a much stronger narrative way of exploration. In twelve short stories, it lets the player take control of flies, trying to entertain us with funny, educational but often useless dialogue. The description of Life of Fly mentions that it is a game like no other and they aren’t lying about that.
We played Life of Fly for an hour on Xbox Series X.
What we liked!
- Visuals: Aery’s colorful and far-stretching visuals isn’t something you’ll find in this game. While everything else from movement, camera, and the gameplay is an exact mirror from Aery they took a different visual approach for Life of Fly. That’s a shame as I was a big fan of the visual style but the much smaller realistic look with quite some details fits very well for the needs of this new game. The setting doesn’t always match what the narrative is saying though, this is something they can improve on if a sequel will ever ‘slowly’ surfaces.
- Narrative: Twelve different flies, twelve different locations for twelve life lessons. That’s the set-up and it works, it was thanks to the narrative with great voice-acting that I had the motivation to see past the dull and slow gameplay. While not everything lands, I had some laughs or emotions with most of them. I believe that everyone will find a fly that sounds familiar, the stubborn fly, the naive fly, or the scared fly. So despite the fact that this review isn’t the most positive one on this site they did a good job with the narrative!
- I was expecting more from the fly concept: Creating an interesting gameplay mechanic for an animal that only lives around 20 days, depending on if it is a male or female isn’t the easiest thing. The life cycle, going from eggs to pupae and releasing as a flying monstrosity (seriously, did you google ‘fly up close’?) could be an awesome thing to turn into a game. Sadly, Life of Fly has none of that. It might be my mistake to expect a bit more in this regard. You could be controlling a butterfly or an alien mothership as none of the gameplay mechanics are designed around flies. Honestly, the thing you control in this game doesn’t even look like a fly to begin with.
What we disliked
- Slow movement: Imagine a sloth hanging on a tree, these fascinating creatures come down every seven days to defecate. Not sure if you ever saw how incredibly slow sloths move but let me tell you that an elderly sloth with a wooden leg trying to use as little energy possible moves faster than your aerial protagonists in Life of Fly. I’m aware that speeding up movement would have made an already short game even shorter but my patience has its limits. I would have preferred that they placed the checkpoints farther in between and provided us with some kind of movement boost. Let me tell you, the flies in my house move around like DC’s The Flash, avoiding whatever I hold in my hand to kill them so why do all the twelve flies fly so annoyingly slow?
- Short: I was done with all the short stories in an hour. Considering it has zero replay value that’s disappointing. Honestly, I don’t think I could handle much more of the slow gameplay but gamers are allowed to expect more from a €15 purchase, no?
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