Life Beetle is a title that randomly floated (or scuttled as it were) across the ethereal wooden surface of my existential desk recently, so I figured I would give it a go. Since I jumped in without really knowing anything about it, I will take that approach here and jump right into the review.
*Unfortunately, due to a lack of Steam Overlay, I was unable to take screenshots. As such, I have found two game images online that I’ve added and will be providing interesting beetle pictures as well to fill the void. Cheers.
The story in Life Beetle seems fairly obvious, although I imagine each player can derive their own meaning from it. For me, it seemed like you are in a mental institute and are a suicidal patient. The patient is actually you the player, and the beetle, in its anthropomorphic state is a representation of you being trapped in your mind. The beetle as an actual beetle is trying to find escape from this existence. The final message seems to be that there is no escape except through suicide or simple acceptance. Possibly both. So, this is obviously not a light hearted game. That said, for as short as Life Beetle was, and as poor a job of translating from Cyrillic to English as was done, I would still say the story was effective.
6.5 out of 10
For the anthropomorphic stages of Life Beetle, gameplay is as simple as watching cut scenes and simple interaction with a trigger point on the screen. The actual screen moves like you are on a ship when you walk back and forth. These sections of the game are 2-D side view.
For the straight beetle stages of the Life Beetle, the game is a little more complex. For one, the beetle always moves forward, although you can direct it to prevent it from crashing into objects and dying, by turning the room to accommodate its forward motion. At a certain point, you get the ability to dash, which will help you to avoid some of the moving obstacles (and evade bullets in a certain bullet hell section). You later get the ability to hold the beetle in place before launching him forward again. This will help you to line up your shot, so to speak, and further avoid obstacles. Each room (level) has a key you must pick up to unlock the exit.
That is pretty much all there is to the gameplay in Life Beetle. Simple and yet definitely handles well enough. I did use a gamepad for my playthrough, which worked just fine. Some of the key mapping needs to be fixed however, and specifically the ability to use F12 for screenshots (currently, it is set to min/max the screen instead for some reason).
7.5 out of 10
I thought Life Beetle looked really cool. I would have taken screenshots, but F12 seems to have programmed to minimize/maximize the screen instead of taking screenshots (as mentioned in the gameplay section). Although somewhat minimalist, I liked the two different distinct looks between the anthropomorphic sections and the beetle sections. The 2-D anthropomorphic sections reminded me a bit of Lone Survivor, whereas the beetle sections were isometric and had a really raw and basic,almost Hotline Miami type design (it looks nothing like HM, but the isometric presentation is similar).
6 out of 10
The music playing consistently in the background was nice. There really isn’t much to the audio in Life Beetle, but what is there is pleasant enough and seems to fit nicely.
6 out of 10
Life Beetle isn’t going to change your life or your perspective on gaming, but it was a nice 10-15 minute jaunt into the mind of a suicidal person via a more Kafka-esque approach. It’s like a buck on the Steam store, and worth a try in my opinion.