Let There Be (Enough) Light

HIGH The environmental graphics aren’t that bad.

LOW The repetitious nature of gameplay.

WTF Being robbed of the “Interact” button because of a bug was… something.

Sometimes, a reviewer’s task doesn’t end with playing a game and doing a write-up. No, sometimes we need to dig deeper into the titles we receive in order to understand exactly what is going on and how can we better serve the developers and the public. Case in point — Seed of Life. This puzzle-based action-adventure by two-person Italian studio MadLight definitely required further investigation after experiencing it.

In this title, the player inhabits the shoes of Cora, the last survivor of the world of Lumia, as she tries to save herself from an alien menace threatening to destroy what little life is left on the planet. To aid in her task, she has an alien companion and a talisman which can be used to gain powers, like lighting up dark places or self-healing.

Seed of Life might indeed be classified as a third-person action-adventure, but the exploration is limited and the puzzles are the meat of play. These usually involve interacting with a pedestal and rotating it enough so that it finally clicks. I wish there was more to them than this, but they don’t really seem to make much sense — I interacted with them and, after a while, they’d just work.

Once the pedestal in an area has been activated, Cora is tasked with opening doors, activating mechanisms and, generally, finding enough mana to survive. This mana is used to power a shield in zones where the darkness is too widespread and the land is poisonous. This mana drain isn’t a great idea, since it essentially acts as a time limit and Seed of Life isn’t great when it comes to giving directions where to go.

Once Cora finds a sufficient amount of mana, she can usually complete all objectives in the immediate area and proceed to the next zone. While this isn’t bad design per se, the player will lose all accumulated mana if they don’t go back to the rotating pedestal, which acts as the checkpoint. This transforms Seed of Life‘s play into a whole lot of back-and-forth to the pedestal in an effort to save collected mana, which, along with acting as a timer, is also used to power up mechanisms and open doors.

The controls are imprecise and clunky, which wouldn’t be a problem if the action was relegated to turning pedestals and opening doors, but Seed of Life asks the player to perform some platform jumping and even environmental climbing. Sadly, the controls are simply not up to the task.

Graphically, Seed of Life looks stuck in the past. After starting to dig into its history, it was revealed to be in development since 2017, at least. The devs describe it as having “triple-A graphics”, which I feel compelled to contradict. The main character model has a doll-like quality and never moves her mouth, even when speaking, and shows no emotion except slight bewilderment.

Seed of Life features weak production values, questionable design decisions and repetitive play. Online research tells me it’s the work of only two people, but the hard truth is that despite their efforts there are dozens of similar, better titles available. Still, the devs seem to be constantly patching it up and trying to fix things, so I commend them for at least trying. I wish I could give it my seal of approval, but from any perspective this is an extremely hard one to recommend.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by MadLight and published by Leonardo Interactive. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: The game is not rated by the ESRB, but it contains very moderate violence. Considering there’s not really much of anything anything that needs a content warning, my guess is that it could be recommended to everyone.

Colorblind Modes: there are no colorblind modes available

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game has subtitles for all spoken dialogue, but text cannot be altered or resized. No audio cues are necessary for successful play. In my view, the game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The game can be controlled via gamepad or via mouse and keyboard, and the controls are remappable. There is no control diagram. The analog sticks move the character around and rotate the camera. Jumping is with A and interacting is with X. Shoulder buttons are used to activate the in-game interface.

Damiano Gerli
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