Ahh yes, The Game of Life; a 1960s originating board game in which you attempted your best to live out that nuclear family life of dreams. You know: getting married, having kids, earning a pension, etc. Players with the most points at the end of the game would win. Over the years, while the classic game is still around, it’s also evolved into spin-offs (I, myself have a Wizard of Oz edition), and even since the late ‘90s has found its footing in the digital board game front. Now the folks at Marmalade Studios, purveyors of making super accessible versions of classic board games, have taken The Game of Life, and enhanced it to the point that it’s considered a complete sequel to the game, aptly naming it The Game of Life 2.
The Game of Life 2 is most accurately an adaptation of the classic board game, but first and foremost, there’s a bit more depth and certainly charming appeal right from the get-go. The game offers a plethora of ways to play, including Solo, Pass Play, and several Online modes too, so there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from enjoying this game either with bots, friends, or randoms across the globe, and even cross-platform players on the go with their phones.
It takes mere minutes for Life 2 to induce its charm onto you, as you’ll customize a meeple character with some snazzy outfit options, as well as select one of the various caricature vehicles that’ll scoot you across the board. From there, you can select the theme, in that you can play with traditional Game of Life art assets, or instead opt for a Haunted board, Fairy Tale aesthetic, or with the Season pass you can elect to purchase even more add-on contact. It’s worth noting that these themes are in fact more than just a quick asset swap too. Your jobs and many events that happen during a game will also be respectively themed based on which option you chose, which gives the game an extra breath of fresh air after you’ve played a handful of games.
With 1 to 4 players, either CPU or People controlled, you can kick off a game with varying difficulty and length. Two player games typically ran me about 10-15 minutes at most, and were a perfect quick-play game without having to invest a significant amount of time like many board games demand. Another great feature here is that the game fully supports and even tailored their UI for touch screen input. While using the Joy-Cons worked fine, I actually loved the pass and play touch experience with my family the most thanks to the vibrant, large and accessible icons that afforded fluid game turns.
The playing “Board” itself is presented in an entire environmental aspect, with the playfield path sprawling across hills, rivers, etc. While you play, you’ll come across stop points in which your path can diverge and choices need to be made. Do you focus on your career, or start a family? Have kids, or work towards a job promotion? While many of these options can feel a bit dated, it’s not far-fetched by any means, and again, we’re talking about a classic board game here. Some subtle, but nice contemporary updates are that when you elect to get married, you’re presented with 3 meeple options, each wearing different outfits ranging from a suit, to a wedding dress, or a combination of both, which will provide fitting options for most.
As you continue to work your way to the finish line, and ultimately retirement, your actions will dictate how well you’re performing across three categories that are represented in your player information bar. If you take the lead in any of them, you’ll earn a crown to hold as long as you remain on top, and holding that crown when you complete a game does mean extra final points. If any players cross the finish line before others, they’ll be left spinning to increase their bank accounts, or work to add more of those points in the three Life categories, so it’s yet another strategy to not dawdle too long on the board if you can help it.
Once the game has ended, and all final points are tallied and a winner declared, you’ll also earn puzzle pieces in any number of categories that count towards unlocking new content such as cars, character outfits, etc. These essentially are achievements, and once a categorial achievement is completed, the next one unlocks until you’ve completed the full puzzle unlocking said content, which will be a surprise until it’s unveiled. I personally liked this reward track as it helped just a smidge to refresh the game after having played quite a handful of games with the family. The only turn-off may be the price point coming in at $29.99, which does feel a bit steep given the content offering, and also to get the most out of the game long-term, you’ll need to pony up another $19.99 up for the season pass.
The Game of Life 2 isn’t a particularly deep strategical board game gone digital, so expectations will have to be tempered, but what it does right is faithfully build upon the game’s classic foundation, and give it a high polish pass with an expansion on some rules and functionality. It’s a solid casual board game, that is certainly suited for the entire family.
The Game of Life 2 Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 8.5/108.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6.5/106.5/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
The Game of Life 2 takes on the classic board game, and gives it a fresh look with several themes, and some updated and enticing gameplay. With the ability to play any way you like with friends, strangers, or just alone against CPU opponents on your lunch break, the game finds its footing equally with the cartoony graphics, responsive touch controls, and quick game rounds. The Game of Life 2 doesn’t disappoint for really any age group to dive in and see where life takes them.
Alex has been actively gaming since the release of the Nintendo. Turning passion into profession, he’s spent just over a decade in game development, and is currently the Creative Director at a studio.