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Review of Life Eater: A Captivating Game on Abduction with a Hint of Timidity

Mechanically, Life Eater employs a diary-centered puzzle system in intriguing ways, yet it falls short in delivering substantial commentary on its provocative premise.

Few game concepts are as attention-grabbing as one centered on abducting and killing individuals. This idea inherently courts controversy to make an impact, which, if executed thoughtfully, can be justified. In the case of Life Eater, an indie game with genuine intrigue, the premise, though uncomfortable, is not gratuitous or exploitative. However, while the game ventures into discomforting territory, it lacks a profound message to justify its narrative choices. It seems somewhat hesitant to fully explore the controversy it deliberately incites. Yet, before delving deeper into this aspect, let’s explore the noteworthy elements that lie within.

Life Eater – Game Review

  • Developer: Strange Scaffold
  • Publisher: Strange Scaffold, Frosty Pop
  • Platform: PC
  • Availability: Currently available on PC ()

At its core, Life Eater is a puzzle game rather than the violent murder simulator one might expect. The gameplay revolves around scrutinizing people’s daily schedules, uncovering clues, and gradually piecing together their activities. By interacting with the calendar entries through various intrusive actions like hacking or surveillance, players navigate a delicate balance of time management and suspicion avoidance.

Every decision in Life Eater carries consequences. Each action consumes time, akin to a currency, while also raising suspicion levels. Mismanaging these factors can lead to mission failure. Balancing the urgency of time constraints with the need for discretion adds a strategic layer to the gameplay. Additionally, engaging in downtime activities, like “staring,” can reduce suspicion but at the cost of valuable time.

As the diary fills up, indicating progress, players reach a point where abducting a target becomes possible. This marks the transition to a memory test phase, which involves answering questions about the victim’s life while interacting with a stylized depiction of their internal organs. Although the visuals are more cartoonish than graphic, the context of the task within the game’s narrative context adds an uncomfortable edge.

The gameplay primarily revolves around these mechanics, which, despite their simplicity, form intricate and thought-provoking puzzles. The game progressively introduces complexities, requiring players to think critically and employ logic to deduce hidden information. The evolving challenges demand meticulous observation and deduction, often leading to mission retries and a deeper engagement with the narrative.

Life Eater continually raises the stakes by introducing new layers to the puzzles. From abducting multiple targets to exploring indirect investigative approaches, the game consistently escalates the complexity and intrigue. Each level presents fresh challenges, encouraging players to explore diverse timelines and analyze interrelated clues, culminating in a compelling gameplay experience.

However, beneath the puzzle-solving thrill lies the unsettling reality of the protagonist’s actions: voyeurism, abduction, and murder. The game confronts players with moral dilemmas, forcing them to make ethically questionable decisions. While there is a certain allure in embodying a taboo fantasy akin to popular TV shows like You, the game never lets players forget the gravity of their actions.

Despite its engaging gameplay and thematic depth, Life Eater falls short in delivering a conclusive narrative. The story elements interspersed between missions hint at deeper mysteries and character motivations but ultimately leave many questions unanswered. The game’s conclusion feels abrupt, lacking a satisfying resolution or meaningful closure, which diminishes the overall impact of the experience.

Life Eater – Accessibility Features

Subtitles are available, but the game lacks additional accessibility options.

In conclusion, Life Eater offers a few hours of captivating puzzle-solving set in a unique and unsettling backdrop. While it teases a potentially profound narrative, the game struggles to fully realize its thematic potential, leaving players with a compelling yet incomplete experience.

A review copy of Life Eater was generously provided by Strange Scaffold.