Almost as deep as real life
Life is hard. There’s only a limited amount of time in a day, and a finite amount of money you can spend. Is it better to start working right away at a lower rate, or spend more time in school? Should you rent, buy, or invest? While Life Quest 2: Metropoville takes an over-the-top presentation on what one can achieve in a lifetime, its parallels to real life decisions are surprisingly accurate.
Life Quest 2 stars you off with a custom character attempting to leave a bad neighborhood. Fleeing from a life of crime and corruption, you head for Metropoville, the town that promises a 12-step program to the perfect life. Filled with a cast of eccentric characters, Metropoville offers a lot to do, but only a limited time to do it.
Fans familiar with Life Quest (not required to enjoy this game) will feel right at home with Life Quest 2; the two games are almost identical gameplay-wise. Your main goal is to balance your time of the day while still maintaining a high happiness rating. While there are plenty of missions to tackle of your 12-step life goal, the major difference between the two is that instead of a mission-centric focus, you play for a high score over the course of 100 days. Even if you chose to take a tutorial through the first few days, you’re free to roam the city and make your own decisions relatively early in.
Despite its bright characters (which have taken an overhaul from the CityVille look found in the original) and light-hearted tone, Life Quest 2 is an unexpectedly deep and challenging game. The word “Quest” isn’t there for nothing, and much of what makes Life Quest 2 fun is how similar it feels to a “serious” turn-based-strategy game. While gameplay is simple enough for the most casual player to enjoy, there’s a tremendous amount of strategy required in order to complete your 12 life goals in 100 days (and like us, you likely won’t on your first try).
The question of time management is one of the real world’s biggest issues, and it constantly surrounds you in Metropoville. Here’s an example of how deep a single aspect of life can get: You have a limited amount of time units that you can use each day. You can expand your maximum capacity for units if you go to the gym. However, the speed in which you complete classes at the gym is reliant on certain statistics that you can boost if you take classes in school. Other classes in school will take less time if you take classes based in intelligence first. Everything costs money. Work costs time. This is just one small look into a basic Metropoville mechanic, but look at how deep and complicated things are already!
The final thing that has evolved from the original Life Quest is a sense of humor. Right from the get-go in the opening cinematic, Life Quest 2 makes it very clear that this is not your traditional life simulator. Voice acting is surprisingly strong, and every aspect of Metropoville features a sarcastic look at life. Every shop owner pokes fun at his or her own business, such as the fitness club instructor accidentally calling her program a “cult”, or the fast-food diner discussing how much grease they use in their meals. Flavor text is often loaded with puns: we particularly enjoyed the use of internet meme references, such as the trolololercoaster, or the pet shop I Can Has Pets. You wouldn’t expect it at first glance, but Life Quest 2 is a funny game.
The only downside to Metropoville is how shockingly similar it can be to real life. While there are plenty of complex systems to learn and enjoy, such as a stock market, vehicles, careers, romance, and vacations, things feel a little mundane toward the end of the adventure. Some days might play out like this: Wake up, go to work. Work until night. Don’t forget to eat. Deposit earnings in the bank. Don’t forget to pick up the kids. Sleep. While the daily grind at the end of your adventure offers an interesting lens into the real world, it doesn’t make for particularly engaging gameplay.
Despite its repetitive nature, however, Life Quest 2 offers a deep and fun strategy experience that’s worth playing through a few times over. Planning out a successful life over the 100-day limit is challenging, but that’s exactly what keeps it such an addicting experience. Especially in a home with multiple players, competing for the top score in Life Quest 2‘s life will likely take up all the time from your own.