Those of you who are of a certain age, like me, probably remember days growing up when it was raining outside or you were otherwise stuck indoors with your family. When that happened for me, we would often gather around the kitchen table for family board game night. We had plenty of games to choose from, including staples like Monopoly and Sorry, as well as some advanced games like Payday and Oh What a Mountain. But my favorite was always the Milton Bradley classic, Life.
The Life board game was incredibly easy to play, and also a ton of fun. You start the game fresh out of high school and have to decide if you want to go into the workforce or stay in school to earn a degree. If you go the workforce route, you start immediately making money, and can take the shortcut to the main part of the gameboard. If you stay in school then you have to take the longer route in the first part of the game, but generally end up with a higher paying job at the end of the preamble.
It was especially fun to play Life as a kid, because it let you dream about what real life would be like one day. Would you get married and have a family? Own a dream home? Get a job that changes the world? There were seemingly endless possibilities on that colorful game board.
These days, families are in the same boat in that they sometimes get stuck inside when it’s raining or snowing outside. But because of the pandemic, many are also keeping to themselves a lot more because of social distancing. More time with the family is often a good thing, but if people and kids get bored it can also be a stressful experience. And while there is nothing wrong with breaking out those old board games, assuming you still have some lying around somewhere (with all the pieces), these days there are other options.
Case in point, Marmalade Game Studio has created The Game of Life II, a fun recreation of the Life board game. The game is extremely colorful with lots of animations, which is perfect for kids with short attention spans. And it’s available on the Steam platform for just $10, which is a heck of a deal.
The video game is a fairly faithful recreation of the classic board game, right down to the theme where you drive cars around the board and add little tokens to your vehicle to represent new family members. Unlike the board game, you can choose to add pets instead of children if you choose. You can also choose for a same-sex marriage if you wish, so the game is fully inclusive.
The game also supports online multiplayer, so if you or your child has friends who they are keeping socially distant from, or who happen to live far away, they can play the game together. It also supports pass and play, which is how the game was mostly tested, which mirrors the way a real board game is played, with people taking turns spinning the spinner and moving their vehicles around the board.
The animation in the game is very well done. It’s cute without really being too much. Some of the special effects and cut scenes, like when you graduate from school or get married, are fun to watch and make you feel as if you have accomplished something really cool. The sound is nothing to write home about, but is sufficiently peppy and provides a great backdrop.
Some might say that a game like Life is a little too simplistic for these modern times, but the game is a classic for a reason. I found myself playing it with my family and a few friends and it held everyone’s interest for several games at a time. Younger players should especially enjoy being given the opportunity to dream about their future though the game. And The Game of Life II is also one of those rare titles that can be played together, with both parents and kids enjoying the experience.