At its core, Immortal Life is a farming oblique life-sim, with RPG undertones. It mixes elements from popular titles like Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, but presents it in a traditional Chinese setting. Currently available on Steam through Early Access, it is being developed by newcomers YiFang Studio and published by 2P Games.
Admittedly, I wasn’t initially impressed with Immortal Life. The story felt rather rushed, the gameplay was a bit clunky, and the textures left a lot to be desired. However, at some point, everything seemed to click for me. I became so engrossed with what I was playing, that I started to lose track of time. Before I knew it, I was 30 hours deep into my playthrough, and eagerly wanting to play more.
While I ultimately ended up enjoying the game, I cannot deny that I considered uninstalling it at points. If I didn’t have an obligation to review this, I may not have persisted through my gripes. Sadly, this could be an issue that ends up plaguing Immortal Life and its success.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The narrative is rather chaotic at times, but I’ll do my best to condense it down. Elder Zuo of the Guiyun Sect, a place known for its academic prowess, requests your assistance in rebuilding the Misty Valley. The region has long since been abandoned, but still remains known for its magical agricultural properties.
Upon your arrival, a storm abruptly emerges causing meteors to fall from the sky. This devastates the surrounding buildings, and causes high ranking member Brother Xie to be put into a critical condition. It then falls on you to rebuild not only the Misty Valley, but the entirety of the Guiyun Sect.
The story continues to unravel in different directions, and somehow leads to the prospect of becoming immortal. To my understanding, it’s a metaphor about doing something that will be remembered for generations to come. Some of my confusion may stem from translation issues. While they’re not too frequent, they do crop up from time to time.
In of itself, the story is not that bad. The major problem here is pacing. It tries to convey all of its plot points within the first 5 minutes of the game, and gives itself no time to breathe. I had to replay through the beginning a further two times to understand what was going on. Hopefully the pacing issue is resolved by the time we get to the full release.
As mentioned earlier, Immortal Life borrows a lot from other contemporary titles like Animal Crossing. You begin with a desolate patch of land, and overtime, turn it into a thriving and prosperous farm. You’re also awarded a home that you can make various improvements to. These include expanding its size, and decorating it with different household objects.
You are given quests through your fellow Sect members, which act as the main NPCs in the game. They’ll task you with completing objectives like growing a specific vegetable, catching a rare fish, or collecting enough money to fund a project of theirs. You’ll develop relationships with these characters, and in doing so, will be rewarded with gifts and other special materials.
The gameplay consists of an assortment of minigames, and each have their own varying level of complexity. Things like farming and fishing are mechanically straight forward, but require working around the games seasonal cycle. If you don’t reach your goals in a timely manner, you’ll lose your window of opportunity until the following season.
You then have things like cooking and combat which are much more hands on. Cooking involves following specific steps to correctly prepare a meal. The longer you take to do this, the lower of a rating you’ll receive. Combat is fairly basic, but enjoyable none the less. Monsters have their own unique attacks, so you’ll have to find the perfect moment to retaliate against them.
The most ingenious part of the game is the spells you get to cast. These can either help you out in battle, or assist you in speeding up your vegetation process. I’d love to see more of these in the future as they are a real blast to mess around with.
Time Is Money
Time management is a crucial factor in Immortal Life. You have to juggle between things like helping out at the local inn, and gathering lumber for a sect member. It’s a continuous struggle that you’ll never really get on top of, but one that’ll keep you engaged regardless.
I ran into a few bugs and quality of life problems, but that’s to be expected in its developmental state. It’s important to highlight that the developers are updating the game on a regular basis. They are also listening to their player-bases feedback via their official discord server. This is helping the game dramatically, and major issues are being patched out fairly quickly.
Art and Audio
Immortal Life is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to art design. The environments are presented in 2.5D, and the vibrant colour pallet perfectly capture the cartoonish aesthetic. The lighting here is also superb, with the night sections particularly appearing dynamic and warm.
The character models were fairly rudimentary for my liking. While they are reminiscent of what you may find in a Pokémon game, the lack of varying expressions and animations make them seem dull and lifeless. The ground textures are also messy, and ended up becoming a detriment to the scenery at times. Thankfully, these are all issues that can be fixed. I have no doubts that YiFang Studio intend to do this at some point during development.
The audio team have done a rather nice job in capturing the ambient feeling of the game. The musical score complements the visuals well, and some of the tracks are just downright catchy. The motifs also change dynamically depending on the time of day, which I found to be a nice touch. Some of the SFX are fairly standard, but they are serviceable in what they need to do.
Immortal Life shows a lot of promise. The addictive management systems are undeniably immersive, and its varying gameplay mechanics left me clambering for more. Though the graphics and narrative pacing are a cause of concern for me, these could be remedied in subsequent updates. If you are a fan of casual games, then this may be something worth picking up. However, I’d strongly recommend you wait until its official release date to get a full understanding of the games potential.