A somewhat experimental life simulation, Imagine Lifetimes is an entertaining diversion to run through once or twice, but likely lacks the replay value to keep most of us engaged.
Release date: 26 Nov, 2020
From the first time I played The Game of Life as a kid I’ve had a soft spot for life simulations of all kinds. Whether it’s a modern board game variation like The Pursuit of Happiness or the most recent iteration of a renowned video game like The Sims 4, I’m always at the very least curious when I see a new one being released. Imagine Lifetimes pulled me in it with its concept, though it’s a much more casual experience, lacking anything even remotely near the depth of the previously mentioned takes on the genre.
A Multiple Choice Life
From swimming to the egg as a sperm to the story ending in a plethora of ways, Imagine Lifetimes puts you in the driver’s seat of your character’s life. In the child stage, you’ll determine what your favorite toy was, who your friends were, and what activities occupied your time. Your first time through is thrilling enough, though even the developers knew that this portion of the title wears out its welcome quickly and put a quick play option in future lives where you can randomize your youth to skip this stage entirely.
Adulthood expands away from the linear choice of options and offers you a list of majors to choose from before being introduced to the paths that make up the most significant portion of the experience: travel, career, partner, housing, family, marriage, and retirement. As you can imagine, some of these require one of the other paths to be completed at least once to unlock, though each of them offers differing benefits. Travel focuses on an abstract mini-game revolving around traveling around the world where you repeatedly click a globe after you’ve chosen which flight to start with. Career involves you choosing a job related to the major that you picked and then attempting to click on the rapidly changing contracts in front of you.
Partner is basically hopping on tinder, swiping left or right, and then deciding what type of date you’re going on with them and where you’re trying to make it end up. Do you go on the adventurous date and shoot for something long-term with June or do you go on the romantic date and gun for that one-night stand with Bart? If it evolves into something more, you’ve unlocked the marriage path which is mostly a memory game about the items that are flashed on the screen as you attempt to make the wedding match as closely as possible to your partner’s goals, your partner who is a huge bride/groomzilla that is. Housing is pretty much exactly what you’d expect: mobile home, small apartment, cottage, and “financially unattainable.” Finally, retirement lets you kick back and relax in your home until death eventually comes a-knockin’. Oh, and if you want to, after you’re married, you can always go wild and hit the divorce path.
Imagine Lifetimes isn’t a disaster of a game, but it is one that I can’t see myself playing often, if at all, in the future. I found it to be more or less the same game each time, even with the occasional random event sprinkled in to extend its life. If the concept interests you, by all means, check it out, though I can’t recommend it at its current price tag of $10. It’s a casual experience that might entertain you for a few, but don’t go in expecting anything revolutionary that will keep you hooked for more than an hour or two.