“For a time I believed that mankind had been swept out of existence, and that I stood there alone, the last man left alive.” – H.G. Wells
Seed of Life is an action-adventure, puzzle-platformer that sees players take on the role of a young girl named Cora who must find the Seed, an alien device capable of generating the essence of life and the only way to save her already ravaged planet from total annihilation.
Released: 11th August 2021
Available on: Steam
Seed of Life begins in a small cottage in Lumia with Cora reading through her Grandfather’s books providing exposition about the game setting and main objective with not a bit of subtlety. As the planet’s sun was dying, aliens invaded to steal the world’s life force, luminum leaving creatures behind to absorb anything that was left. Cora’s task is to locate the source of life and activate the Seed in order to save her home.
Whilst an interesting premise, the narrative design is lacklustre with the story being largely spoonfed to the player via simple lines of underwhelming narration. Having the main character voice-acted is a nice touch, however, the voice felt detached and flat as if the lines were being read for the first time and was ultimately a detriment to the overall experience.
There is a lot going on in Seed of Life, Cora must overcome puzzles, platforming, stealth challenges and a range of enemies in order to eventually reach her goal. This in turn requires finding a number of capsules in order to unlock vision, magnetism, regeneration and light skills that use luminem that she can collect from flowers and pedestals that also replenish HP. Cora’s health depletes almost constantly necessitating many return trips to the pedestals, while this was surely intended to add more depth to the overall challenge, in practice, it very quickly becomes a chore. Pedestals also act as checkpoints to which the player will be returned if they die.
Much like the story, instructions are delivered via the emotionless narrative which over-explains and holds the player’s hand in all the wrong places with phrases such as “I can’t go there” after interacting with an obviously locked door. Contrary to this and possibly a bigger problem is that other key elements such as a special move called a talisman power surge is left basically unexplained. This made for confusing and disjointed gameplay.
Another key issue with the game is its poor optimisation, I struggled to get a consistent FPS despite lowering graphic settings which really hindered the enjoyment. Clunky character movement that feels clumsy and laboured simply added to the unpleasant feel.
The visual aspects of Seed of Life are its best features with varied landscapes, creatures and plants depicted in fantastical colour palettes with some nice lighting. There are muted natural tones for the elements that feel at home in a medieval fantasy contrasted by the luminous pinks and blues of the sci-fi elements to a great effect. Sadly this is difficult to enjoy in its full glory due to the optimisation issues mentioned above.
There is some gentle background music that blends well with ambient sound effects such as the wind, rocks falling and water flowing to create a somewhat immersive feel.
Overall, Seed of Life sounds better than it is. The game boasts an interesting overarching narrative, a range of obstacles and mechanics and what the website describes as ‘triple-A-quality-graphics‘ yet it falls short on all these counts and more. The monotone narration, frustrating instructions, optimisation issues and slow pace of the gameplay are the main sources of disappointment, making this promising looking game very difficult to recommend.