Quick Look – Life is Hard (#JustOnePercent 72/100)

Developer: Pirozhok Studio
Release Date: August 14, 2021
MSRP: $9.99

I feel like over the last three years here, I tend to complain about the same things over and over. In the case of Life is Hard, that complaint is that the difficulty of a game should not be a result of deliberately obscure systems and poorly explained (or completely unexplained!) mechanics. I will forever argue for a developers’ right to make their game as easy or difficult as they want to, but only when that difficulty is fair.

Life is Hard is absolutely not fair, and while I can see that might be part of the point of the game, it still irritated the hell out of me.

If it’s an option, I almost always choose an easy or story mode difficulty when I first start a game. If it’s easy enough that I find my interest waning, then sure, I’ll go back and turn it up, but there is no shame in my beginner mode game. I made sure to enable the tutorial as well. Games with indirect control mechanics, like this one, are something I tend to enjoy, but the ways of influencing your minions to do the things you want them to do can vary quite a bit.

The UI is something of a disaster. There’s a “quest” panel on the left hand side of the screen, but even when you do what it asks of you, it never seems to change or complete the quest. The tutorial window is on the right, with forward and backward arrows to move around inside of it, but nothing to indicate when you can actually proceed to the next step. Despite being rather wordy, it manages to fail to explain key mechanics, and it can be difficult to figure out how to get certain resources. Hint: it’s very rarely the most obvious way.

My first settlement had everyone die of starvation. Apparently, I did something that overwrote the task of the person assigned to forage berries until the end of time, and in my struggle with the building interface, I failed to get a farm up and running before my meager starter supplies ran out. In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t such a great idea welcoming new settlers while I was completely out of both food and housing. That was okay – I didn’t expect to win on my first try.

My second playthrough seemed smoother, although I still wasn’t really feeling like I really got it yet. I found the mine early, and made sure to assign a miner to start building up my reserves of stone, minerals, and gems. I remembered to equip someone with a rudimentary weapon, and figured out how to make that person the hunter to keep my settlers from dying to bunnies because they were bare-handed punching them*. I made sure to have a farm built & staffed early, and everything seemed to be progressing smoothly. I had food, I was upgrading buildings, and I was starting to work on getting weapons built for everyone.

Then this happened.

Upon restoring a new section of the mine, I stumbled into some kind of necro-nightmare. I didn’t panic. I had a handful of bows and clubs by this time, and I figured we could at least try to fight our way out of this (seeing as there didn’t seem to be any easy way to just re-collapse the mine and leave the nice skeletons alone). So I equipped my miners with weapons, and prepared for battle.

Both of my miners just stood there and let the skeletons punch them to death. I couldn’t make them fight. I couldn’t make them leave the mine. They just took one look at those spooky boys, and must have thought “Welp, guess I’ll just die then.” At this point, I may have rage-quit the game**.

*This is me being overly dramatic. They did not die from punching bunnies. They died from punching deer.

**I most definitely rage quit the game at this point.

SteamDB estimates that Life is Hard has sold between 11,200 and 30,800 copies on Steam, which seems very low considering it had an excessively long period in Early Access (my records show that I played the game originally way back in 2016). It’s garnered mixed reviews, with the most common complaints being poor UI, excessive bugs, and a feeling that the game was fully released in an unfinished state. It is ranked 6602 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s