I’m not angry with Seed of Life, just disappointed. There are plenty of reason to be frustrated, if not angry, however—especially with a game that does nothing right. I rarely say that about any video game, and while I believe that even Seed of Life has redeeming qualities, it is one of the least enjoyable games I’ve played in a while—and I play a lot of games.
Seed of Life is an adventure platformer with puzzle elements. In it, you play as Cora, a young girl who is the only hope for her dying world. An alien species has invaded, and left Cora’s world toxic, killing off almost all life. She has to save her planet by finding The Seed (emphasis theirs). Finding the seed will fix the planet, and stop its toxic decline. To do this, you’ll have to gather Lumia and brave the toxic atmosphere while navigating platforming sections and solving puzzles using abilities you acquire along the way. Okay, so far so good, right? But things fall apart once you actually start playing.
While Seed of Life is, on first impression, a pretty game, it’s all surface level. The look of the levels and environments is okay, but what stands out is the stiff animations—especially for Cora. Many other world interactions are similarly stilted, with some of the animations feeling almost like placeholders. It’s not that I require intricate animated interactions to appreciate a video game, but everything is so stiff in Seed of Life it’s off-putting.
That stiffness translates over into stiff gameplay, too. Moving around the world of Seed of Life is miserable, and not fun. Platformers are best with fluid, tight controls—but my experience with Seed of Life was the opposite of that. I tried using both a controller and keyboard + mouse combo and neither felt right—though controller is best. Eventually Cora will get different abilities, like sprint, health generation, spirit vision, etc. These different abilities will enable Cora to bypass obstacles and brave the harsh toxic environment without dying.
The level design Seed of Life isn’t great, either. There isn’t sufficient signposting to really guide you in the right direction. There are arrows that point you towards objectives, but it’s not always clear if you can climb some of the rocks or be able to walk up the obstacles in front of you. There are other times when the games forces you to move slowly, sometimes inexplicably, something I’ve always abhorred in video games, even when used for a narrative reason.
There are some sparks of good in Seed of Life. It has interesting world building, blending sci-fi and fantasy settings. Unfortunately, the game’s story doesn’t do its world building justice. Seed of Life is narratively driven, with most of its story told by Cora’s through voice overs. Unfortunately, the voice performance for Cora is one of the absolute worst I’ve heard in a while. The actor voices Cora with a little girl affectation that is, I think, supposed to convey wonder, but it’s distracting at best. I found myself having a hard time taking its story seriously, which is big trouble for a game that relies on its narrative as an impetus to continue playing.
Seed of Life is a game I struggled to play. I wanted to, at almost every moment, do something other than force myself to spend any more time with it. I genuinely hated it that much. It has rudimentary puzzle platforming and atrocious controls with a story that is told in an obnoxious way. It’s hard to find many redeeming qualities besides ”sometimes it looks pretty.”
Seed of Life is available now on PC via Steam and on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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