If you truly want to start questioning your life, legacy and downright where you’re leaving your wallet, look no further than The Way of Life: Definitive Edition. The best way to describe this game is like: do you know when you have a really important decision to make and your palms get all sweaty from the stress/rush of it all? Let’s just say thank Odin there was controller support, because my mouse shot across the room like a buttered up naked dude down a slide…more than once.
The Way of Life: Definitive Edition is a first-person walking-simulator by CyberCoconut. The definitive edition now brings a wide array of changes, choices and achievements. The game focuses heavily on choice. Players are given the chance to go through the milestones of an average life. With each milestone you choose, you again have the choice of living it through the eyes of three different characters, all at varying stages of their existence.
There’s the child who sees life in vibrant colours, struggles through school, and is just learning about the world; the middle-aged stage sees issues in love, work and an overall feeling of becoming pinned down; and finally, we have the elderly character who fights with inabilities and recounts times gone by.
As we go through each of the 10 milestones The Way of Life has to offer, we see how these characters approach them and also play a part in their choices. An example of how the player influences the story found in the milestone where we are shown how our characters interact with and view the people around them. My favorite part of this milestone was the one offered by the elderly character.
We meet him after waking up on the train, unable to find his wallet. You then have to investigate, find clues, and discover who might have taken it. As we progress through the carriage, we see a range of people from all walks of life and varying cultures, and each time our character becomes certain with some sort of prejudice that it may be them.
However, the outcome of my ending really opened my eyes as to how people may see the world around them. I can honestly say The Way of Life developers have done a great job with their storytelling.
So how does The Way of Life show a distinction between these three character’s lives? It’s all about the visuals my friends…oh and the speed, height, and ability to aim the mouse.
There’s an individuality to each character. The child’s story is vivid in colour, he’s naïve to certain dangers and levels suddenly turn into superhero movies! The middle-aged character is much more…well, drowning, to be honest. His levels are caked in tendrils that seem to tie down and suffocate the player. His puzzles revolve more around logic, showing how he has to be more serious in life. Finally, the oldest character is slow in speed compared to the other two, and his levels are drab on colour and filled with themes of memory and death.
Each character has between 2-3 options to pick from per level, kind of like in any of The Telltale games. Your first choice is the one that matters, though, and is recorded for the playthrough.
Again, I found myself helping the elderly character as he was trying to cut a zucchini. This took me almost 30 tries and should probably have its own mini-game. You have to carefully move the mouse to make the next cut. Because of his age, however, the mouse reticule swings all about, putting into perspective the problems and general wear and tear of life on our bodies. He could choose to get his grandson’s help during the level, even though that would affect the overall ending.
As you complete each milestone with the different characters, you’ll begin to create another character in the trophy room. Once you are done with them all, you can use this final character to walk along your way of life. This shows you the various choices you made; sort of like the tables at the end of a Telltale games, where you compare your choices with those made by other people.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Way of Life. For an indie game, it had some really beautiful level design, interesting puzzles, and a beautifully crafted idea that I think CyberCoconut nailed.
There are all kinds of combinations in the way you play. With 10 milestones and over 70 choices, there are definitely a few reasons to replay this game more than once.
The designs for each character really accent the age and atmosphere of their world. In a time where titles like PUBG held the top seller title for so long on Steam, I’d say it’s about time we started looking for depth in our games.
Think The Stanley Parable…but you question your every fiber ten times more so afterward.
The only thing I’d say to the developers is “don’t stop here”. I liked this game for the fact that it opened my eyes to the effects of age and how people may see the world; something a receding hairline and an ever-protruding tummy have failed to do so far.
If The Way of Life takes on board more variations, I think it can hit such a wide audience and not only become a success but also promote diversity and raise awareness of our effect on the world.
And so begins my existential crisis…