Treasure Life fun, although still in the excavation phase
The Indiana Jones series taught an entire generation that archaeology was the profession to take up if you wanted adventure in your everyday life, but sadly the truth is usually much more mundane. Real-life archaeologists spend most of their time toiling in the sun, often finding nothing, and at other times their life-defining find may simply be a peculiar eating utensil. RedAtom’s Treasure Life reminds us that this, too, can be fun, although the game is still digging for a proper direction.
Each level starts with a gridded plot of land that your character must shovel or pick through in order to uncover treasure. Usually these treasures are simply gold coins or experience, but occasionally you’ll find an important piece (such as a fishing net or a glyph) that’s needed to “restore” a larger treasure. Once you’ve restored a treasure, such as a golden scarab, you can display it back at your campsite for your friends to see.
Maps increase dramatically in size and appearance with each level, and since you only have a limited amount of energy to continue digging, there’s a true sense of excitement in higher levels when you finally uncover something. Indeed, it’s possible to use your entire energy bar without encountering some treasure. Energy for additional digging can be restored with bottles of nectar, which you’ll get either by merely digging or by having your pet monkeys make some back at your campsite.
Also, your progress on each map at higher levels will be halted by various elemental gates (such as earth, fire, water, and air), which require amulets to open. These can be obtained from a friendly bird at your camp once a day, and you can also take them from your friends’ campsites by visiting them, so it pays to have a few friends playing with you.
The maps themselves are charming, but currently limited to the “Egyptian Desert,” which resembles a vast ancient Egyptian complex such as Giza, while the next release will feature a “City in the Sea,” likely based on the lost city of Atlantis. Unfortunately, the environmental imagery (such as columns, portals, and the like) only extends a few blocks past the main gameplay area, resulting in ruins that look like they’re floating in space or another dimension. A simple and minimal extension of the landscape would greatly improve the game aesthetically.
Aside from the actual digging, all other activities are based at your campsite. Here, as stated above, you can put your two pet monkeys to work making nectar, or you can spruce up the place with the artifacts you’ve discovered in the ruins. Other options are currently limited, however, and the only additional props available must be bought with Facebook credits and not in-game cash. This is unfortunate, since the option to beautify one’s campsite with in-game currency might bring more visitors to Treasure Life. Furthermore, the tent itself appears static, there’s apparently no way to step your monkey business for more nectar since you’re limited to the two monkeys you received at the start of the game.
In its present form, Treasure Life is off to a good start, but new players will quickly find themselves wishing for more customizable features—and ones that don’t require real-world money to buy. At this point, players can’t even customize their avatars since the game only allows for one female and one male model. As Treasure Life extends past its beta testing, we’re looking forward to seeing how the game improves and for additional rewards for uncovering long lost treasures. Hopefully we’ve just dusted off the tip of a much greater find.