The Lullaby of Life Review – Rekindling The Primordial

Come. Let me take you back to a time in indie games where new worlds everyone clamored for came and went at an unprecedented pace. Simple, cool shapes and silly sounds captivated the collective gaming mindscape as the markets grew, and sharing the work of the passionate few became easier than ever. The indie revolution of the late 2000s. As if plucked directly from an alternate universe, Lullaby of Life effortlessly reclaims all of its nostalgic qualities.

In a way, many of this era’s most distinctive qualities spread over the entire industry, but the whole package still feels unique. Lullaby of Life is about a blob shape, the kind you’d find on an early 3D graphic artist’s hard drive, but with googly eyes. You watch it float around through the beginning of the universe as it uses its sound buttons to bring out the googly eyes in even more abstract shapes.

A bunch of eyes escaping from a cube-like shape with smaller cubes coming out of it, as the blob-shape swims on the left side of it inside a planet-shaped object
It is the eyes that make a being alive, something we all knew as kids when we put googly eyes on everything

It hits certain story beats, and has progressively more complex, but never truly baffling puzzle mechanics and controls with a pleasant sense of floatiness, but ultimately, Lullaby of Life is about feeling. There are no issues and no standout mechanical qualities to describe at length—what you see is what you get. The worth of an experience like it lies in the personality of its interactions.

Just like the games it cites as similar on its Steam page (Osmos, Flower, Webbed, Botanicula, and Journey), it is the player’s lived experience that determines the level of attachment to its bubbly world of a blob reverberating colorful sounds into switches and strings. Can they still find something awe-inspiring in its design?

A little, differently colored blob buddy floating behind the main, big blob
The little buddy note blobs that that you use for puzzles add a sense of consistent camaraderie

I feel that it is important then to state that I do still feel the sense of beauty resonating from Lullaby of Life. It kept me engaged from the moment I tested out what each button does to the zoom-out into credits at the end. I felt the sense of wonder bouncing from the bumpers on the walls and finding a little buddy to accompany me in one of the cores.

Its focus on sound is a bit underwhelming, as I found way more to enjoy in its visual aspect than getting lost in the ambiance of its soundtrack. Though I typically find a lot of value in the idea that the universe is a song, I feel like a stronger core or overarching idea in the music itself would greatly benefit that theme. Ultimately, it still serves as a welcome overarching motif to give the game a sense of identity.

A big yellow eyeball with orange iris looking at the blob floating away through the orange goop
The strong colors make the constant change of environments very invigorating

This coat of paint helps with appreciating what Lullaby of Life brings to the table, but I think that undoubtedly the thing that draws me to such experiences is this idea of the personal universe. These short, abstract, one-and-done worlds are so different in video games as compared to other mediums because they can feel so distinctive as these displays of artistry by a small team of creators, yet feel so much like the player’s possession.

That lies at the core of these kinds of games. All the little interactables do not further any gameplay or narrative purpose, but instead the tangibility of the world. This tiniest bit of friction is what distinguishes them all, and what makes each worth trying. Taking only three hours to beat, Lullaby of Life is perfect for this kind of experimentation, as it is chock full of these exact systems.

A single-note main blob, unlike its future version with three notes, pushing a purple block around
Blocks like these litter the passageways, they don’t really do much but can be pushed, and that’s why I remember them fondly

Bouncing on pinball-like bumpers, spamming sounds without any switches around to create weird melodies, flying through staves so they make string-like sounds: if these kinds of little touches still excite you, or you have yet to find joy in them, then Lullaby of Life is worth trying out. Similarly, those yearning for some late 2000s indie nostalgia are sure to find it here in spades.

Though the game’s title may make it seem like a snooze-filled time, the progressively growing intensity of its set pieces and puzzles makes the finale a bit underwhelming. It does end on a rather peaceful note, even in terms of its mechanics. It feels like it lacks a true crescendo to accentuate the final realization, something to leave you with when leaving into the void. When all is said and done, though, a lullaby must suffice.

A dark blue and purple background goo, a blue-ish core with eyes poking out of it and a light blue musical staff around it and purple dust covering it. The blue blob has its eyes closed and is vibing to the music
The more you play, the easier it becomes to get lost in the toy-like artistry of it all

And though life may be trying to put me to bed, I am reinvigorated. Its aura ripples throughout my body as I remind myself of the beauty of this universe. My third eye opens like that of a planet’s core. All these ideas are singing, spinning, floating. They wait for me to compose something, to connect my planet-sized thoughts into something bigger. Bringing out bliss and inspiration like this is what games like Lullaby of Life do best.

Mateusz played Lullaby of Life on PC with a review code.

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