Sludge Life is very much a Devolver Digital game: edgy, cool, and more than a little bit weird.
From the minute you boot it up, inputting a your password to log into a fake low-res desktop screen filled with icons, you know you’re in for an unusual ride. You can fiddle with the config or check out the readme if you want, but sooner or later you’re going to want to click on that ‘Play’ icon and get stuck into the meat of the experience.
Sludge Life explains very little to you. It’s the type of game that wants you to figure things our for yourself. You soon grasp that you can jump and crouch, for example, and interact with certain objects. Finding spray cans, you can also tag parts of the environment with graffiti. That seems to be the aim of the game; the more graffiti points you find and spray, the higher your cred, increasing the number of tags available. Having not played a great deal of the game yet though, I suspect there’s more to Sludge Life than meets the eye.
Presenting you with an open environment to freely explore, you can chat with NPCs, pee in toilets, and drink lots of soda. To help you get around, you can activate warp points that allow you to fast travel. Not that getting around is very arduous though; your character is quite agile, being able to climb up drain pipes and suchlike. There are helpful items to find too, such as a camera and a glider. And if you find some cigarettes, you can even have a smoke while taking in the sights.
While Sludge Life is weird from the outset thanks to its strange art style, retro aesthetic and unusual premise, every once in a while it surprises you by getting a whole lot weirder. In one locker, for example, I found what I can only imagine was a magic mushroom. Naturally, I consumed it, and then found myself wandering around a world that had quickly become alien to me. Needless to say, it was very disorienting, but also pretty cool.
Also on my travels, I found a smoking cat that looked really smug, and discovered another cat that, due to a scientific experiment, now had two buttholes. Sludge Life is a game that will just leave you scratching your head at times, but it’s that craziness and air of mystery that will keep you going back for more.
With very little to kill you – the only deaths I’ve suffered so far have come as a result of bouncing up astronomically high from some sort of substance before plunging back down to earth – Sludge Life is an easygoing affair. A mixture of platforming, exploration, comedy and narcotic consumption, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re into unique gaming experiences.