Remember the Steam Scream Fest last month? I do. I played about 20+ demos and had the best intentions to write all about them, though in the process, thought, eff it; why not buy the games and write something then? One of those games was Life Gallery.

A little insight into my contradictory brain: 751 Games’ surreal narrative puzzler is the yang to all my cosy, feel-good tastes: this is depressing, disgusting, and delicious. It’s the opposite of something as innocent and upbeat as Frog Detective.

Nonetheless, this sinister puzzle game is that double team I love to refer to as beautifully grotesque. Life Gallery retells the unfortunate events of a pair of siblings and their parents’ unhealthy interests in a fish cult and DIY surgery.

Told over four chapters, you experience the family’s tragic tale by re-enacting pivotal moments such as birth, life, death, and resurrection. Life Gallery is twisted and sad but stunning to look at, and there’s some guilty pleasure in acting out these setpieces to the sounds of a serial killer’s theme tune.

Life Gallery Review - New openings
New opening. Source: Steam

Life Gallery Review: Two Siblings And Some Fish

The dialogue is minimalist, with a few title cards insinuating the transition of time. Pictographs replace universal words, making this appeal to anyone with an itch for using their grey matter and gawping and gorgeous illustrations without reading codecs.

How many games will you play this year where you part your mother’s vaginal walls to be born? Two? Touche. Most of these puzzles are morbid, juxtaposed with an eye-popping use of colour and character that diverts you to what’s happening.

Before you know it, you’re worshipping Dagon and all the other fish fiends. Ok, no, it’s highly unlikely Life Gallery will intoxicate you to the point of joining or forming a cult. Are you interested in starting a cult? Read this next. Clever link, eh?

There are no instructions to follow throughout the game. Sometimes, the story gets a little too confusing, and the penny doesn’t drop until a few puzzles per chapter – you just go with it, like the torture scene in GTA V, only you don’t come out feeling melancholy.

Life Gallery Review - Fancy a smoke
Fancy a smoke? Source: Steam

Dead Good

Generally speaking, Life Gallery is relatively easy. How many puzzles are available in the game? Maybe 50 or so. Their setups are mostly seamless due to the eerie storytelling and, as I mentioned numerous times, the gorgeous art.

There were a handful of puzzles that stumped me. The pattern in each scenario was deciphering what needed to be done, and aside from one which escapes my memory, once I’d solved a confusing puzzle, the method was glaringly obvious.

I played the Life Gallery demo and immediately fell in love with it. It was a no-brainer to buy this. It’s incredibly cheap and, at the time of writing, on sale, too. I picked this up with the dev’s other game, Cat Museum, as part of a bundle. No, I’m not getting any money for this, nor free fish – I’m just recommending an excellent indie puzzle you have to play. 

The demo’s still up, so what are you waiting for?