What Mad Light’s effort lacks in depth, polish and life, it somewhat makes up for in jank and quirky charm
DISCLAIMER : For this review, we were provided with a game code from the developers at Mad Light. This has no impact on the opinions expressed in this article. Thanks Leonardo Interactive and Mad Light.
Seed of Life is a survival/puzzle adventure indie game developed by Mad Light and published by Leonardo Interactive. You’re put in the well-worn shoes of a young woman called Cora as she traverses the increasingly inhospitable world of Lumia in search of both lumium and the titular ‘Seed of Life’; the two keys to saving her planet from the ecological disaster that has seemingly killed everybody else except for her. Not far into her journey, she happens upon the talisman, an alien backpack that bestows her with a cool Dead Space-style pseudo-diegetic HUD, a cute alien sidekick companion, and an assortment of abilities that can be unlocked through exploration. These abilities range from being able to see (and use) hidden platforms and other points of interest, to illuminating caverns and health regeneration. However, these all rely on lumium, a finite fuel you can collect from plants and alien landmarks scattered around the world.
To progress through the game, you need to use your resources wisely, as well as take a few risks to get to the lumium deposits and talisman upgrades. This means you’ll have to go through a lot of trial and error. Do you have enough lumium to use your recently-acquired talisman ability to traverse that cliffside to the next upgrade, or would you be better off trying to navigate the pitch-black darkness in search of a lumium top-up? This is the sort of dilemma you’ll be contending with throughout. The game isn’t very long, but in your first playthrough you could probably make an hour-long supercut of Cora breaking every bone in her body, succumbing to the planet-wide rot, or melting in lava. Some puzzles don’t need to be done in a strict order, and some puzzles have multiple solutions: this affords the game a feeling of worldly exploration.
When I first played Seed of Life, the experience was pretty rough, not unlike a dude born with sandpaper for skin, who goes on to become a gang banger in the seediest part of Detroit, and grows five o’clock shadow. Also, he doesn’t moisturize. In fact, that fella is looking pretty buttery in comparison. The game was full of invisible walls, the framerate would drop mercilessly and without warning, and some textures would refuse to load. I managed to sequence break my way through a pivotal part of the game without meaning to and I’m thankful I was able to still complete the game regardless.
To their credit, Mad Light have been receptive to feedback, updated the game multiple times since then and addressed a lot of these issues. The end result is a game that a month after release, functions. Even still, the game has a lot of shortcomings. Cora’s voice isn’t very emotive, she sounds rather robotic. She is as lacking in charisma as Lumia is of life, her personality every bit as plastic as the hardhat she calls hair. The game was somehow marketed as having “AAA graphics.” This is technically true, this game would have made for an impressive showcase during the 6th console generation.
Yet despite (or because of) this jank, the game is not without some charm. Cora jumps with this stupid Muay Thai flying knee every time, and her being monotone for 95% of the game makes those moments where she does emote hit harder. It could be that her general voice direction was meant to reflect how a decaying world would affect the last person Earth, so I can’t blame Cora for her lack of enthusiasm. In an industry that leans towards the sort of tension-destroying dialogue you can expect from the average MCU film, there is some room for cold, boring, and awkward. And while the game falls far short of the sky-high, RTX-ridden standards of the modern gamer, it can look legitimately beautiful at times.
I wouldn’t recommend paying full price to find those silver linings however. There are no shortage better games and funner/more noteworthy bad games. Perhaps it can find new life among a Steam sale, or better yet, a Leonardo Interactive Bundle.
A flamboyant ultra nerd, Dave participates in the Underlevelled Tournament both for the thrill of the fight, and to avenge the orphans lost in the climax of the previous tournament.
Hobbies: street dance, collecting manga volumes, reading, editing
Likes: short-to-medium walks on the beach, pointing out how things can and will be misconstrued as racism, fighting games, RPGs, anime, Hades, alternative hip hop, conscious hip hop, Mara Wilson, overly long bios, ice-cream
Dislikes: insincere media, his own uncanny resemblance to Richard Ayoade, mayonnaise