Game Review | a new life.
Game summary: When your loved one hurts you, what do you do? A classic love story about letting go. (Angela He)
a new life. is a game that came up in my Discovery Queue on Steam during the summer sale and, although I have no idea how, I'm so glad I did as it had quite an effect on me thanks to the excellent writing bringing August and May to life even though we only get to spend a short (sometimes very short) time with them.
This is a visual novel, which means reading and making choices and also means that anyone can pick it up and play it without needing to wonder about anything difficult in terms of progressing through the game. I didn't notice any time limits for the choices either, but after realising how quickly you can play through the game, I didn't take too long making my choices from then on.
And just a word of warning for some people: a new life. is a very short game to play through once. Although why you'd only play through it once is beyond me, as there are multiple endings that can play out differently depending on the choices you make at various points in the young couple's lives. One ending is very short and takes a couple of minutes, but most of the five times I played out the story took around 11-12 minutes each.
On the other hand, a new life. is also very cheap, so it's not like you've got to shell out a significant amount to get the game. And considering just how much I enjoyed the experience, I'd say it's an absolute bargain for a game that lets you play out a loving relationship in varying ways - especially when the massive majority of AAA games can't portray relationships this well.
The first time through was a gut punch of an experience for me, and I was genuinely shocked when I realised that was the ending. Part of it was how quickly it ended, but even that feeling was fuelled by the belief that I'd maybe done something wrong, so I instantly started the game again and tried to put things right.
It was only on my fifth attempt that I got what I think is the best ending - at least, the best one I found - but I never got frustrated when things turned out bad in other attempts, partly because I'd already grown to love the two women, but partly because the game was so short that I believed I could still very quickly make them happy.
I have to credit Angela He for how well she gets across their personalities too, with August and May having their own identities yet clearly being effectively perfect matches for each other. While you do get to see May's inner thoughts and even make decisions for her a couple of times, you mainly make choices for August and she was definitely the one I grew to empathise with most.
Just to make it clear, I'm not a queer woman like August or May, but I very, very quickly grew to identify with the former and felt sad and upset when things didn't work out for her and May. In fact, my connection with her was so strong, that I actually cried when I achieved the 'best' ending because I was so happy for her - it was that moving for me.
I wholeheartedly recommend a new life. without any reservations whatsoever and would urge anyone to set aside 45 minutes or so to play through it 4-5 times (and a couple more if you're an achievements hound!) and enjoy getting to experience these women's lives.
One last word of warning (and slight spoiler, so be wary of reading on), as it could affect some: this game was released in May 2020 and, as such, does feature references to a pandemic and having to isolate. This can play a part in August and May's lives, but how large a part depends on your choices - consider this a heads-up for those who suffered or experienced loss due to COVID-19.
a new life. is a short and sweet tale about two women and the varying paths their lives could take, with multiple endings to see. Despite it's short length, the fact that you can 'rewind' and see how things could've gone with different choices so easily makes it strangely satisfying and a number of the endings will stay with you long after you stop playing.