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About the Story
A little microbe in the primordial ooze has grand dreams! Dreams of survival, by and large, but small goals lead to large ones. Can you climb your way out of the ooze onto the land, into civilization, and up to the stars? And by the time you reach space, will you be wearing the fanciest of all fancy hats?
20th Place - 22nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2016)
The Breakfast Review
The text bits are all very short and perky. I liked the affectionate humour. This is clearly meant to be a lighthearted romp, and I'm not sure if there is a way to "lose".
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Start as an amoeba, end up as the ruler of a galaxy-spanning civilization. A great concept, if not entirely original. Despite the incredible scope, it ends up feeling slight.
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Number of Reviews: 5
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You start as a single-celled organism, wriggling in primordial ooze, but by making decisions on your approach to other cells and what to eat, you slowly build up an organism, then a population, then a civilisation. A game with a similar premise is Epitaph, although that approaches the evolution of civilisations from an outsider's perspective, while this is very much an insider's view.
Systems-wise, it might be the most similar to Evolve; both use quality-gated choices. It's a good fit for the platform. While Evolve aims to be educational and brings the reader through the actual nuts and bolts of evolution and other concepts, The Little Lifeform takes a much looser view of the science, with a whimsical touch. Hats feature greatly.
A polished, simple game - could make a longish lunch break game.
(This review originally appeared as a blog post of mine during IFComp 2016.)
I thought I recognised the 'blob of goop evolves to starflight via all the stages inbetween' premise of Little Lifeform from somewhere. I've not played Spore but I've read about it, and that's the game. But I don't think Little is 'just' doing Spore via prose and the Choice Of Games engine. It has a particular aesthetic slant that is somewhat cute, somewhat dapper (hat-orientated) and generally encouraging. Simultaneously, it seeks to avoid throwing any eggs into particular baskets of peril. It presents a version of the universe that equalises all paths. Frankly this is not something I am used to, and in some bizarre way, I found it a little sinister. The most violent way through life turns out to be as good as the most arty, which is as good as the most capitalistic or the most dapper. That said, I don't think my subtextual reaction is worthy of any great dark spin. The goal of the game is obviously to let you play any way you want, give you a corresponding experience via its cute aesthetic, and allow your way to work. Then, if you like, you can try another way and see what humourous take the game offers on contrasting modes of behaviour.
Your stats in categories like Charm, Defensiveness and Patience are tracked, checkable at any time, and don't seem to lie, though I found the game's ultimate prose assessment of some of my performances a little off (one said I'd leaned on trade when all I remember doing was being the greatest artist and aesthete in the whole universe.) The game is otherwise pretty perfect at what it does, and it's charmingly written. I just missed having some emphases somewhere, because that's how I've always liked my games.
The Little Lifeform that could is certainly not the amoral spectacle of violent death in an uncaring universe that it could have been.
Or is it?..
No, it isn't.
This game owes a lot to Spore, but where Spore disappointed me by being shallow versions of a bunch of genres strung together, this is much more cohesive and consequently, I actually prefer it to spore. It has a similar sense of humor, though it is written with a very modern informal tone that might be hit and miss for people. Speaking only for myself, however, it was right up my alley and I very much recommend it.