Let There Be Life is a non-traditional, zen-type game about adding branches and leaves to trees to help them grow. There are no power-ups, no clock counting down, and no enemies. It was originally created by husband and wife team Sasha and Jason Seip, under the name Backwards Pies, for the Edge Get Into Games Challenge 2013. After placing second in the challenge, the duo decided to expand on the game and release it to the public.
Gameplay in Let There Be Life is very simple, which makes the game a very relaxing experience, perfect for unwinding for a few minutes to change gears or decompress after a hard day at work. The goal of the game is to add branches to a tree, taking care to make them as long and leafy as possible. Doing so will fill up the health meter on the right, and you cannot progress to the next tree until the health meter for the current tree is full.
However, as you will learn as the game progresses, you also need to take care not to create too much shade for the flowers under the tree. If the flowers are too shaded they will die and you will have to start over, but in my experience you really need to be making a concerted effort to put shadow in the same place in order to do this. On the other hand, shade is favoured by mushrooms, which will grow when they have enough shade. When the mushrooms grow large enough, they replenish the sunlight for the flowers, again making it very difficult to kill flowers without doing it intentionally.
Also, as you progress through the game you will unlock different birds and butterflies with which to populate your trees. Brushing the wildlife with the cursor will triggers sounds and animations, completing the feeling that you are creating an enchanted forest. There are several different types of trees to build and the casual puzzling of choosing which branch to put where does pay off in a real sense of accomplishment once your have finished building a tree.
However, while the mechanics and design of the game are incredibly enjoyable, there were one or two things about the game that unfortunately diminished the experience for me. First of all was the click and drag motion needed to bring a new branch into place. I’m not sure if this was a result of my mouse being too touchy, but I often found myself losing branches randomly. Which was made all the more annoying by the slide whistle sound that accompanied this, which is decidedly not zen. However, I’d still consider this a minor flaw as it could be my own fault.
My bigger pet peeve was with the in-game text. Some of the initial tutorial texts were worded rather ambiguously and other times the size of the font made text spill into the tree, making it difficult to read. Again, not game breaking stuff, but it doesn’t echo the polish seen in the rest of the game.
All in all, Let There Be Life gets a big recommendation from me for those of you looking for a different type of game that isn’t too competitive or complicated to play. It is currently on sale for 50% on Desura, Indie Game Stand, and the Humble Store.