Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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Above all else, art is a creator using a medium to get across a message. So if critics of games need yet another example of how this supposedly worthless pastime can be art, take a look at A Life Worth Dying For. While it may feel too much like work at times, it’s still a fascinating portrait of a serious subject.
A Life Worth Dying For establishes its stakes with an opening quote about not being able to see your life flash before your eyes while dying. From there, creator Mutlu Isik uses the game as a way to express his own thoughts and fears about degenerative neurological diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Despite having his features obscured by the striking high-contrast art style, the man constantly falling towards his death is clearly modeled on Isik himself. The game also uses video clips and audio snippets from Isik’s own life in case there were any doubts that this is about him trying to remember and hold onto his family in his mind. That may sound a little self-indulgent, and it kind of is, but there’s a raw vulnerability to it that makes the experience more personal than pretentious.
But how does it play? A Life Worth Dying For is essentially a series of Brain Training-style mind exercises presumably designed the help ward off the mental health issues Isik is so concerned about. First, players must listen to a series of words and respond when a word from two steps back is repeated. Then they must do the same thing with squares on a grid. Finally, both puzzles are combined. It’s a lot to juggle in your head at once, and the game can start to feel like a hospital trying to keep things fun for its patients. But it is a sharp test of mental reflexes. Plus it has an interesting point system where players can choose to cash in their combo multiplier to level up faster. They even unlock new facts about the brain along the way.
A Life Worth Dying For may not be the most fun game, although there are games that are way less fun and actually mind-rotting. But it’s still worth experiencing just as a singular, artistic statement.