Life of Delta doesn’t overstay its welcome and has nice puzzle variety, but you are often wondering what your goal is.
Developer – Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher – Daedalic Entertainment
Platforms – Nintendo Switch, PC, PS5 (reviewed)
Review copy given by publisher
How far will you go in a post-apocalyptic world to find your loved one? Life of Delta answers this question from the perspective of Delta, a small service robot. The world has been ravaged by conflict and nuclear fallout, with robots and lizardmen surviving above ground. Delta is found by a robot named Joe and they have a great life together. Their peace is cut short when Joe is abducted by lizardmen, with Delta resolving to get Joe back by any means necessary.
Life of Delta is a point-and-click adventure where Delta must solve various puzzles to rescue Joe. The game length isn’t long and doesn’t wear out its welcome by dragging out the story. One of the story’s biggest strengths is the characters. Despite several characters being robots, there’s a human aspect to their emotions and motivations.
Delta is motivated to find Joe because they rescued Delta from a difficult situation. Robot workers complain of being overworked and mistreated. A potion maker is concerned about their favorite house plant. You can sympathize with these robots because everyone’s been in a situation where they cared about something.
Life of Delta presents a variety of situations that players have found themselves in before. Even though robots are usually seen as calculating or emotionless, they have humanizing thoughts and words. It’s great to see how robots took on the burden of humanity after they left the surface. While there are lizardmen who provide another range of emotions, it’s not done as well with them as it is with the robots.
One of the biggest downsides to the story is its length due to the abrupt ending. Life of Delta does wrap up its biggest story threads and resolves the narrative properly. But when you see the ending, you have more questions than answers. It seems like a sequel hook or an ambiguous ending which could have been addressed quickly.
The gameplay is puzzle-solving to get Delta everything they need for their rescue mission. As a service robot, Delta can safely interact with normally dangerous materials and perform risky operations. You perform repairs, retrieve dangerous objects, and interact with advanced machinery to get closer to your goal.
The biggest problem with the puzzles is the lack of explanation and unclear goals. While you don’t want constant handholding to make puzzles too easy, you often don’t know what your goal is. It’s up to you to figure out how a puzzle works and what the objective is. Some puzzles are easy to understand, but others are significantly harder.
This makes puzzles more complicated than necessary and makes it feel like the game is padding its length. Puzzles should have appropriate difficulty but not providing any details is frustrating. If you don’t know what your goal should look like or how a puzzle works, it’s easy to get annoyed.
For example, one puzzle involves putting a variety of objects onto a board, ensuring that they match the locks. You aren’t told how many objects you must place, what you are looking out for, or what the locks mean. This means you are plugging objects into position, hoping that you find the right answer.
Veteran puzzle players can quickly grasp the concept and understand what they need to do. But casual players who are looking for a relaxing time will struggle to understand their objective. It’s a strange choice to not put any guidance or clues when it comes to puzzle-solving. The intention feels like the struggle is meant to buy time to make up for the short story length.
Life of Delta’s puzzle variety is a double-edged sword as a result. It’s great to see that the game has a lot of variety which prevents boredom from setting in. Unfortunately, this also means that you don’t get the chance to adapt to any puzzles. You must stumble through the puzzles and figure out what you must do every time.
The visuals of the world are great to look at. They accurately represent a dying world that’s evolving with new lifeforms. Robots and lizardmen have done their best to carve out a new life for themselves. It shows with the new technology mixed in with some old human customs. Rather than inhabitants pretending to be human, it shows how everyone has adapted to the post-apocalyptic world.
While the lizardmen largely look the same, the robots are mostly unique. Similar designs are used for a few robots but some have different appearances. The technology is also a mix of modern and futuristic technology, as if some of it was unearthed. There’s enough modern carryover that you never feel truly out of place, but it’s futuristic enough that robots don’t surprise you.
Unfortunately navigating around the world is difficult. Using a controller to move around is difficult and sometimes the game doesn’t fully register your inputs. Delta doesn’t run and it takes time to get around. Interacting with puzzles can also be difficult if your input doesn’t register properly. There are also several instances of objects being selected in the world despite not existing at that location.
While it’s not a big focus, it is jarring to see that you can pick up a cloth that isn’t there anymore. It makes you feel like you are missing something or that there are multiple copies of an item. Sometimes it isn’t clear what you can take with you and how much you can keep. Coupled with the lack of help, it makes it hard to know if you have something that can help solve a puzzle.
Life of Delta has strong fundamentals when it comes to building a story that doesn’t overstay its welcome. The puzzles have good variety which keeps you on your toes. Unfortunately, a lack of guidance drags down the gameplay and it’s not easy to move around the environment. But if you like puzzles and a quick story, you can’t go wrong with this game.