Up until the writing of this review. Every minute leading up to it. I could not, for the life of me, decide whether or not I actually enjoyed Seed of Life.
Let There Be Light
Lumia is a dying planet with a fading sun. You play as Cora who, along with her grandfather, are some of the last remaining people. While the world may be on the brink of complete collapse, Cora knows there is hope. She knows that a seed of life is still out there, inextricably linked to the source of all life, Lumium. This alien device is the last hope of her world. And so she heads out, in the footsteps of her grandfather. To rekindle the light in a world being consumed by darkness.
It’s a fairly by the numbers premise. A classic hero’s journey that doesn’t really tread into any uncharted territory. There’s an alien threat, a doomsday clock, abilities to gain, and obstacles to overcome. You’ve seen it before with some variation or in different formats.
Lumium Makes the World Go Round
The goal of the game is to find and activate the seeds of life in this world. Along the way gaining access to abilities that unlock steadily as the plot moves forward. There’s a very specific gameplay loop. You collect alien artifacts called petals. Collect enough of these to make use of six pedestals. These pedestals unlock abilities that are used to progress through the world. Along the way you interact with Lumium trees which increase your base amount of Lumium. The resource which all of your abilities use.
This sounds extremely straightforward because it is extremely straightforward. But while it may not be the most inspired gameplay, it does accomplish what it sets out to. The game progresses at a good pace and the abilities are utilised well. Save for the last one you gain, which is used for an obscenely short amount of time near the end of the game. It’s also my least favourite ability. Which takes platforms from the ceiling and drops them down for a short time for you to jump to.
Other abilities include vision that allows you to find points of interest and invisible platforms. Magnetism which allows you to leap through the air between giant magnets in the sky, and regeneration, which needs no explanation. It was a bit sad to see that none of the abilities did anything particularly exciting. They were practical and that was about it. An example of this point is the fact that the most exciting moment was unlocking a sprint. Yes, a sprint ability was my highlight of the game.
Give Me A Real Challenge
Seed of Life ends up a game of collecting and traversal, which isn’t inherently a bad thing. I fight the urge to add in the word puzzles, because everything is really quite straightforward. Some petals may be hidden behind barriers of their own making. The pedestals that unlock abilities require you to line up shapes in a specific order. Lumium trees are also tucked away in areas that require the use of the right ability. However, even when there’s an objective behind a barrier or hidden from plain view, there’s usually a very obvious alternate path that’s far from challenging. Though, that’s not to say every game with puzzles needs to be the be all and end all of difficulty. For anyone who wants a casual experience in that regard. This will provide that.
Enemies in Seed of Life were quite underwhelming. It should be noted that it’s definitely not a game defined by combat. It’s simply an adventure title and doesn’t pretend to be anything other than that. However the enemies found here were surprisingly drab. Simple patrols creatures that have red detection rings around them. And in only one area were these large plant-looking things that had bubbles which sap bath HP and Lumium from you. The latter enemy type was definitely the more interesting of the two.
I think in place of enemy encounters that amount to avoiding them, I’d have preferred more of the environmental obstacles. Seed of Life is at its best when you’re figuring out the way across an area and finding all of the objects and points of interest, making use of the full suite of abilities. So adding in more traversal and/or complex puzzles would play more to its strengths.
Looks Good, Sounds Bad
The visuals of Seed of Life also propose a dilemma to me. I appreciate the art style and lighting on display. A good portion of the game is illuminated by a blue and terminal sun at the end of its life. The shadows and reflections of pale light in rock faces are expertly done, and for the most part looks really good. Other segments more well lit than by the dying sun still manage to look great. Again due to its lighting. There’s a haze in the air, and a diffusing of light that gives everything a lovely warm hue that complements the environments very well.
However, on the other end of the spectrum, character models both on Cora, her grandpa and the enemies all look quite simplistic. On top of that the animations are robotic. Cora’s jump animation looks like that of an abandoned animatronic. This makes for character movement that’s a little bit janky, against an environmental art style I really liked.
One of the first things I took note of as the game started was the voice acting. It was stilted to say the least. Cora’s voice lines were noticeably flat and her lines were delivered like the actor had no context for what they were saying. Cora wasn’t the only offender though. The other two main characters also had some questionable delivery. It took away from the investment I felt toward the plot and characters.
What’s the Verdict?
So did I enjoy my time with Seed of Life?
On one hand it has an interesting idea, a good art style, and some very effective and practical abilities. But on the other hand some robotic animations. Stilted dialogue that took me out of moments that might have otherwise been impactful. As well as, boring encounters with enemies that left me wishing for more. Not in terms of more content, but in terms of polish and a more fleshed out way to engage with the world.
It might seem like I had more complaints than compliments, but by the end of it all I felt mostly mediocrity from Seed of Life. Not a bad game. However, not a terribly good one either. Mostly middle of the road. With that being said, I’d actually genuinely like to see a sequel. There’s potential in this intellectual property. It just needs time, polish, and abilities/puzzles that push the boundaries a bit more.