My Thoughts on The Game of Life: Extreme Reality
While most people were probably already thinking this, The Game of Life: Extreme Reality shares a lot in common with the original The Game of Life. You still spin a spinner and move around the board as you play through a person’s life. You still go through college/start your career, get married, have kids, buy a house, and deal with other events that impact your person’s life. At the end of the game whoever acquires the most money/life points wins the game.
As most people have likely played a version of The Game of Life before I am not going to spend a lot of time talking about the gameplay. On the surface I actually really like the idea behind The Game of Life. Playing through a person’s life is a good theme for a board game. There are things that I like about The Game of Life which includes the game being really easy to play. Unfortunately the game relies on a lot of luck. You make a few decisions during the game, but your fate in the game basically comes down to who is the luckiest player.
As I like the premise behind The Game of Life but wished that some of its flaws were fixed, I was hoping that The Game of Life: Extreme Reality would be the solution. There are three main areas where The Game of Life: Extreme Reality differs from the original game.
The most notable difference between the two versions is the length. I didn’t specifically count the spaces on the different versions of the game. It is clear though that The Game of Life: Extreme Reality streamlines the gameboard as it is noticeably shorter than other versions of the game. While the original game usually took at least an hour to play, The Game of Life: Extreme Reality takes closer to 45 minutes to play.
I have mixed feelings about the shorter length of The Game of Life: Extreme Reality. On the positive side the original game was always a little on the long side. For a game that relies on so much luck, it is generally not a good thing for it to take so long. On the negative side though The Game of Life: Extreme Reality goes too far in streamlining the game. The game feels like you are racing through your character’s life. In one game two players had finished the game before the other players had barely reached the midpoint. I like that The Game of Life: Extreme Reality tried to speed up the game but it goes too far.
The second major difference comes from the premise that this is an extreme reality. Basically what this means for the game is that you will encounter many more wild swings in the game. You will regularly encounter experiences which gain or lose you a lot of money. Your finances and life in general will swing wildly back and forth. One turn you could gains hundreds of thousands of dollars and the next turn you lose it all.
This even impacts the children mechanics in the game. Maybe this was just us but when playing the original Game of Life we would regularly end up having a lot of kids due to landing on the corresponding spaces. I remember times where we had to use two cars just to fit all of the kids. The Game of Life: Extreme Reality embraces this by making it really easy to have a large family. In one turn alone you can have up to five children. Instead of having to move around two cars though the game introduces daycare where you put your kids that you can’t fit into the car. Kids can have a big impact on your fate in the game as they can earn and/or lose you a lot of money in the game. In general you are probably best off filling up your car but trying to avoid adding kids to daycare.
I personally wasn’t a huge fan of the extreme swings in the game. I didn’t mind the children mechanics as they add a little strategy to the game as you have the opportunity to try for kids or pass on the opportunity. I didn’t like the other wild swings in the game though. They just seem to add even more luck to the game. The few decisions you get to make in the game don’t seem to really matter when you can earn or lose hundreds of thousands of dollars just by landing on a space. This makes The Game of Life: Extreme Reality feel like it relies on even more luck than the original game.
The final difference comes from the theme. The Game of Life: Extreme Reality modernizes the original game. This includes adding wild events that can happen to you during your life. Regularly you will end up landing on spaces that force you to read a story card. These stories are based on things that happened to real people. In addition to giving or taking money away from you, these cards give some flavor to your person’s life as it gives them life experiences. I think this helps the game as it brings more character to the people that you are playing as.
I will say that some of the events break the theme though. While some of the things in the game are pretty extreme, you can make a good argument that some of the events aren’t all that extreme. The reward/punishment for quite a few of the events don’t make a lot of sense either. For example in our game one of the people ended up going into space when they were still in college. This put them into huge debt which stayed with them for most of the game. You could make a good argument that it would be a pretty stupid decision for a poor college student to waste $200,000 to go to space. It makes no sense that you wouldn’t receive some LIFE tokens for the experience though.
Should You Buy The Game of Life: Extreme Reality?
At the end of the day I didn’t know what to think about The Game of Life: Extreme Reality. In some ways I think it is better than the original game and in other ways I think it is worse. The main gameplay is exactly the same as the original game so your opinion of the original Game of Life will be a good indicator on whether you will like The Game of Life: Extreme Reality. The first difference between the two games is that The Game of Life: Extreme Reality is considerably shorter than the original game. In some ways I like the shorter length but the game goes too far as it ends too quickly. Second the game adds a lot more wild swings to the game where you can lose or gain a lot of money quickly. I didn’t really care for this aspect of the game as it seems to add even more luck to the game. Finally the game adds a bigger emphasis on storytelling which helps build a more interesting backstory for your character.
My recommendation for The Game of Life: Extreme Reality relies significantly on your opinion of the original Game of Life. If you don’t really like the original game, I can’t see you liking The Game of Life: Extreme Reality either. If you like the theme of playing through someone’s life but aren’t a big fan of The Game of Life itself, I would recommend playing CV or The Game of Life: Twists & Turns as they are considerably better games in my opinion. If you like the original Game of Life though and want a shorter game with wilder swings in luck, I think you will enjoy The Game of Life: Extreme Reality.