Reviews | Written by Chris Jackson 02/06/2021

SLUDGE LIFE

PLATFORM: PC, SWITCH | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

You're a graffiti artist, Ghost, who lives in a polluted slum-like dump of a town built on a sea of sludge, inhabited by hopeless dopes who spend their days lazing around doing not much at all, mainly because everyone's on strike and / or protesting against the nefarious sludge-pumping Glug Corporation. Waking up in your cargo container by the docks, how you interact with Sludge Life is pretty much up to you. Perhaps you'll want to spray your tag across the entire town or infiltrate Glug's HQ, or maybe try to track down the elusive cat with two backsides...

Sludge Life isn't a pretty game. “Horrible” might be the best word to describe it, but that's totally by design. It's a horrible looking town, with its haphazard layout, rubbish strewn everywhere and mentally unstable NPCs who either can't be bothered to look after themselves or are possibly just too depressed to care. It also just looks horrible in terms of graphics – if it was possible to animate drawings made by an 8 year old on Microsoft Paint, there's a fair chance that the results would look something similar to this. But that's not at all intended as an insult – Sludge Life's style is very much part of its overall identity (and charm) which encompasses pretty much everything from its visuals to its music to the interactions you have with the characters you meet and the situations you find yourself in.

Tagging your way around the island is sometimes easier said than done – it's a very compact space, but some parts are trickier to reach than others so there's a fair bit of platforming to be done. But, as one NPC near the start of the game will tell you, "there's items and idiots hidden all over the place", so there's plenty of insanity to seek out along the way. It won't take long to see the entire town – a couple of hours at the very most, if you're hunting for every last tagging spot – but the bizarre cast of slackers and doofuses that inhabit the city will undoubtedly be the highlight of your visit, along with the murky early-90s counter-culture vibe of the city itself. There aren't many games like Sludge Life – the closest comparisons might be similarly-unhinged masterpieces like Baobabs Mausoleum and Jazzpunk – and it certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're in the mood for a weird and trippy nonsense-filled hour or so, you won't go far wrong.