Laserlife offers an intriguing experience of rhythm matching analogue stick waggling, hypnotic visuals and a peculiar story and perspective. It feels more like an experiment than a fully fledged idea, one that makes for an entertaining couple of hours but is severely limited when it comes to replayability.
You are some form of alien intelligence with no previous knowledge of humanity and humankind, however, you have advanced technology that allows you to search through the memories of deceased creatures and retrieve physical items from those memories. Coming across a long-dead human astronaut floating in space, you activate this memory machine and guide two beams of light through three distinct stages to bring into existence an item that represents the memory you accessed.
It’s an odd setup that makes the initial levels a fascinating and compelling experience as you figure out what’s going on and quickly master the art of guiding your two beams of light. There’s no handholding beyond a few subtle commands popping up on-screen telling you to match the beat with the triggers as you guide your beams of light pass through targets with the analogue sticks, but it’s a fairly intuitive set of mechanics. Each level is split into three stages: the first has you guide your beams of light through targets, hitting the triggers to a beat to collect points; the second has you simply hitting targets and the third has you dodge barriers. Through them all, bright colours and otherworldly patterns fill the screen, slowly forming images linked to the memory you’re currently accessing as well as representing the neural pathways of the deceased astronaut. it’s a tremendously eye-catching affaire.
It’s all reminiscent of Child of Eden and Rezed, with its surreal, neon aesthetic, rhythm matching mechanics and theme, and tunnel perspective. The story is what really sets it apart but it doesn’t come together as well as it should. The items you materialise from the memories represent the memories from a human perspective but hold no meaning for the alien race you supposedly are, so why they’re so significant in understanding what humanity is isn’t clear. Largely though, it doesn’t matter, it’s still an interesting, short story.
However, it’s all over very quickly, offering only a couple of hours worth of content. Higher scores can be achieved for those plagued by the knowledge they missed a few targets or beats, but replaying levels can be a frustrating and even painful experience. The positions you have to move each thumb stick to in order to guide your light beams, pushes your thumbs to the most extreme angles the Xbox One pad offers, and having to hit the triggers at the same time to hit the beat can stretch the hand a little too much. Moreover, the triggers just aren’t best suited for digital actions of on and off, and are more suit to analogue. Fortunately there’s no score barriers to stop you progressing, so once a level is complete you can freely move on to the next.
Laserlife is an ambitious title held back by some challenging controls, lack of synergy with the story its trying to tell, and an overall forgettable ambient soundtrack. It looks spectacular and the fundamental mechanics are on the right track, but it’s not polished enough in its current form.
Thanks to Xbox and Choice Provisions for their support
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