Guests are the life of any party. No matter how good the food is, or how great the place is, if the people aren’t happy then the most carefully planned event can easily turn into a disaster.
Achieving the perfect balance of guests – where interesting conversation flows but personalities don’t clash – is truly an art unto itself, and Lifetime RSVP shows just how tricky it can be in a rather unique way: by representing guests as multicolored tiles that must be arranged harmoniously on a game board.
JoJo is a social butterfly trapped in a boring old town. After suffering through one too many dud parties, she finally has enough and decides to throw a shindig of her own to show everyone how it’s done. Her party is a hit, and JoJo soon finds herself organizing get-togethers for all kinds of other folks as well, in a journey that takes her from backyard barbecues to tropical islands, and eventually sailing on a cruise ship to the Party Palace – the ultimate party destination of them all.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Lifetime RSVP is a puzzle game where the goal is to fill up each party location with guests by dragging "guest tiles" onto a game board one at a time.
Each guest tile is diagonally split down the middle with a color on either side. Guests are happy if they’re placed next to another tile of the same color, but are unhappy if mismatched. JoJo’s party will be a success when all the tiles are on the board and interlocked in such a way that all guests are happy – meaning their edges are touching other tile edges of the same color.
Those are the basics, but of course it’s not quite that simple. Each level is a new board with challenging new configurations for the tiles to fit into. In addition to the plain guest tile, there are six other types of guests who each behave a little differently. The Professor needs stimulating conversation to be happy, and therefore must be placed next to at least two other guests (in other words, he can’t go at the end of a row or in another isolated place). The Hermit doesn’t mind talking to one person, but becomes unhappy if he’s next to two or more other tiles. The Punk has trouble fitting in with the rest of society so his diagonal pattern is reversed, while the Princess tile is one solid color instead of two meaning she can be especially tricky to match.
Thankfully, not all guests are demanding and difficult. The Surfer Girl’s tile constantly changes color, so if your timing is right she can get along with almost anybody. Finally, the Joker is a complete party animal – his tile matches with all other tiles around him.
Lifetime RSVP is at heart a straightforward tile-matching puzzle game, so the fact that the tiles have each been given personalities, and that there’s a story driving progress through the levels, really adds to its charm.
The main complaint with the game is that it’s over far too quickly. JoJo’s Adventure (story mode) is only 28 levels which, when compared to other puzzle games that offer 100+ levels, is disappointing.
The only other mode on offer is Endless Party (unlocked after beating JoJo’s Adventure), where the goal is to get the highest score possible by successfully clearing board after board. Dealing with an endless stream of tiles unfortunately doesn’t work as well as in story mode where there’s a set number based on the number of spaces to fill. Once a tile has been placed on the board, you can’t un-place it, which means it’s easy to back yourself into a corner. It’s ok as a secondary mode, but it’s not compelling enough to make up for the shortness of story mode.
The short length was my only real gripe with Lifetime RSVP. Otherwise, the presentation is wonderful and the concept itself is unique and fun.