A New Life review - The choice-focused narrative game to end all others?
| A New Life

Life, when you boil it right down, is really just a series of choices - each of which have consequences. And then you're dead.

Games usually shy away from this rather bleak outlook, offering just a sample of choices to make in a given moment in time and focusing on their immediate effects.

Not so for A New Life, which takes you through the entire life of a randomly generated person, affecting it through little more than making binary choices throughout.

Four legs in the morning

At the start of each game, A New Life randomly assigns you a name, a gender, and a bunch of stats that make up your character.

These stats cover just about the whole breadth of being a human, including beauty, health, sense of humour, athleticism, culture, and a lot more.

Your stats might come out a bit crummy, but you can use Karma points earned in previous games to re-roll your stats and give you a potential leg-up. Generally, it's more fun to just take your character for a whirl and see how you go.

From here, all you can do is make a choice between two options. Do you play with blocks or on a smartphone? Do you go to law school or liberal arts college?

Tap one and your life will progress a year, your stats might change a little bit or not at all, and then you're on to the next choice, with your overall goal being to stay alive as long as possible.

Two legs at noon

However, random illnesses crop up. You can get sacked from your job and be left unemployed for several years, and all manner of other nasty things can cause your life to take a hit.

It's enough to mix up the action, and stop you from getting too bored from the rather basic gameplay.

Where A New Life falls down, however, is that its choices don't really have any lasting consequences.

While choosing to go for a walk instead of watch TV might boost your health in the next turn, you're not likely to see anything really change in your character.

Some of the choices are completely bonkers too - you might be asked to choose between "family" or "beach", for example, and attending just one LGBT Pride parade can instantly make you gay, apparently.

Three legs in the evening

It's clearly an ambitious game, but when your actions really don't affect much beyond giving your stats a small nudge, it all feels rather pointless.

That's not to say it isn't fun - your first playthroughs of A New Life will make you deliberate carefully and laugh wholeheartedly in equal measure as you try to navigate through the horror that is a human lifespan.

But with little meaning ascribed to each choice, and the repetitive, slightly dull gameplay, there's not much here to tempt you back for another crack at living.

A New Life review - The choice-focused narrative game to end all others?

An ambitious idea with shallow execution, A New Life is good for a few laughs, but splutters and dies a little too quickly
Ric Cowley
Ric Cowley
Ric was somehow the Editor of Pocket Gamer, having started out as an intern in 2015. He hopes to take over the world the same way.