My Life Story is a simulation game that aims to make players ask the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" all over again. Does this game make for an enjoyable experience? Read on to find out!
When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Doctor-- or an Astronaut!
Players will relive the fun and indecision of picking out their chosen career path in this game. What does your character want to do with their life? Do they want to drift through life as a lazy bum, much to the dismay of their parents? Are they eager to move out and get a place of their own, even if it's a roach infested dive? As the player, the answers to these questions are entirely up to you.
At the start of the game, players are asked to select their gender. Then an intro pops up that summarizes the life story so far. The character is a fresh-faced high school graduate that is currently living in their parent's basement. They don't have any clear ideas or goals in mind, other than moving out of the basement and into an apartment. That's it for the storyline at the beginning of the game, and a small tutorial follows immediately after. More story would have been nice, since a good storyline often serves to give games a clear directive and goal.
Retro, Old School Graphics
The graphics in this game are intentionally low quality and low key, bringing to mind the gaming consoles of yesteryear. It's not too bad for what it is, but it's mystery as to why the game developers opted for such an uninspired, tired graphical design. 8 bit pixelated graphics work great for action games, but they aren't the best for casual life simulations. A smoother, more detailed art style might have made for a more engaging gameplay experience.
How the Game Works
Players view their character and the town from a top down position. Clicking on a building brings up a submenu with a detailed picture of whoever your character is interacting with, but that's it. The game does not show players what buildings look like on the inside, and the game is played from the same screen of the town for the most part. It would have been a nice touch to have the scenery change to reflect the building the character is technically in.
The submenu that pops up over the town map view does have a closer image of whatever action your character is doing at the time, but this is shown with a kind of spotlight shining down on them, as if they were doing the activity in some sort of void. For example, if your character is lifting weights, you will only see your character and the weights with a blue background behind them. If the character is mopping, they will do so in a blue void as well. It's rather odd, and it makes players feel rather detached from what's going on during gameplay.
There are 5 bars that must be kept filled: happiness, hunger, energy, health and fun. The happiness bar is the total of all of the other bars combined to create the overall state of the character, and the rest are directly impacted by actions the character does or does not take.
Allowing any of these bars to dwindle down to 0 will result in the character being rushed to the hospital, which will cost players valuable time and funds. Even letting the fun meter hit 0 will equal a trip to the hospital. A newspaper headline will be displayed when this happens, with a front page article detailing what happened and where. The headlines can get pretty hilarious depending on the circumstances, so it's a nice touch.
Keeping these bars filled while moving forward with the job and education levels is the main challenge of the game. The game can only be called complete when the experience and education meters have been maxed out.
Career and Education Go Hand in Hand
The first thing that happens in the game is that your character's car is taken away until they move out on their own. This makes for slower going around town, but other than that it's not that big of a deal. A menu of available job options pops up for your current education and experience level, and the only two jobs are street beggar and baby sitter.
Pick what is in your opinion the lesser of the two evils and then make some plans to increase education levels ASAP for better paying and more prestigious careers. Some of the job options are particularly humorous, such as video game tester and medical research subject.
Career type and quality is directly impacted by the amount of education completed, and the cost of earning an education is both time and money, just like in real life. The goal is to be as productive as possible until the weekend hits. Earning the education quickly becomes boring, but it's essential for getting better jobs. Earning money is also necessary, if only to afford higher levels of education when the time comes. Balancing education and work can become quite difficult!
Make the Weekend Count
Items purchased such as TVs, chairs, refrigerators and such all give a special bonus during the weekend which will in turn be carried forward to the next game week. These items also give players a reason to rack up a little extra cash beyond what is strictly essential, and collecting these items is a fun thing.
No Personality or Customization
There is no option to customize the appearance of the character during the game, which is surprising. Also, all of the characters in the game have no personality at all. In other games of this type, the other people your character interacts with have some basic, rudimentary personality that players see during gameplay, but not in this game.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
This game doesn't change things up at all during gameplay, and it all becomes very old, very fast. Eat, sleep, work and study. The game does sometimes manage to successfully capture that sad, sickening sense of being caged in a dead end life with no option for escape, but is that a good thing? Is that what the creators were going for all along?
Conclusion - A Boring Life Story
My Life Story manages to simulate what life is like for many people in the most mundane way possible. Yet there are moments of humor that prevent the game from being a total loss.
Review by Alice Flynn
Alice Flynn is a gaming enthusiast and journalist from Los Angeles, CA. She is currently obsessed with obscure foreign dramas, making tofu taste edible and the latest, greatest computer games.
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