Life of Delta, from developer Airo Games, is yet another solid and half-traditional point-and-click adventure in Daedelic Entertainment’s extensive portfolio. That’s not a bad thing if you’re a fan of the genre, and Life of Delta still stands out by offering an intriguing new setting, impressively atmospheric presentation, and relatively brisk pacing thanks to a smart balance between puzzle complexity and player assists.
The premise is that in the far future – where megacities, robotic workforces, and flying vehicles are commonplace – humanity predictably annihilates itself in nuclear war. The result is a ruined, contaminated world inherited and slowly rebuilt by anthropomorphic mutants that emerged from the fallout and surviving sentient robots. Unsurprisingly, discrimination and intolerance fester yet again, with the increasingly fascistic mutants taking to destroying robot production lines and abandoning many ageing and decaying models.
The protagonist – service robot “Delta” – is pulled from an acid vat by repair robot Joe, shuttled out of the factory, and slowly restored. His actions don’t go unnoticed, however, and one morning, just as Delta is returning to full functionality, Joe is arrested and taken away. Delta crawls out of his hiding spot and his quest to find and free his saviour begins in earnest.
A post-apocalyptic Earth with newly evolved lifeforms repeating old mistakes is hardly a novel premise any more, but it makes for an intriguing setting in Life of Delta thanks to its structure. Both the central plot and backstory are dolled out through frequent interactions with other characters as you explore its melancholic but often beautiful world, travelling from the dusty outskirts to hazy urban slums, and sneaking through police and military facilities.
There’s no direct storytelling in the cutscenes and no environmental details with flavour text, so every character you interact with is significant. Surviving robots – with distinctive designs and personalities representative of their function – readily discuss the state of the world, their inevitable fate, and drop hints as to what happened in the past.
You’re incentivised to interact and listen to them all – well, read with accompanying robot sounds – and Life of Delta does a great job of blending narrative with gameplay elements as every friendly NPC will either assign you a task or provide clues on what to do next.
Of course, an interesting narrative and memorable characters are essential in this genre but Life of Delta also impresses on the gameplay front, alternating between classic use-item-on-object puzzles and diverse mini-games that rarely repeat an idea.
The traditional elements include exploring compact environments and searching for hotspots that lead to quest-giving NPCs, puzzle components, interactive objects, or clues. You’ll then collect, combine, and use items from your inventory to find more key items or maybe restore a device, and you can bet on any area with multiple NPCs will dole out a series of interconnected requests to fulfil before moving on. The sections feel competently made and polished, but also overly familiar for fans.
What I enjoyed more were the myriad of engaging mini-games that will test your ability to interpret visual clues, recognise patterns, understand sequences, predict pathing, and organise components in limited space – all with a bit of numeracy and symbology thrown in. You’ll charge batteries, debug CPU code, mix a potion for a sick cow, rebuild a spaceship, and then distract or disable no shortage of mutants.
The scenarios elevate the puzzles and despite the grim tone, many feature more humorous moments. Despite Delta’s designation as an inherently helpful service robot, they’re surprisingly competent at disabling guards and creating chaos when a distraction or quick escape is needed.
To maintain pacing, Life of Delta features a detailed quest log and dialogue transcript; there are no red herrings; unnecessary items are discarded between scenes; and, if you linger on a puzzle for a few minutes, the game offers a button to auto-complete it so you can move on.
Given the style, Life of Delta looks and runs great on the consoles. It utilises hand-drawn backdrops – with vibrant, contrasting colour and a real sense of depth – coupled with lightly animated sprites for the characters you encounter and any moving foreground or background objects. When you complement the basic visual setup with striking neon lights, atmospheric effects and ambience, and a moody soundtrack – it makes for a surprisingly immersive experience despite the detached perspective.
What doesn’t pan out so well on console are the controls. It’s an emulated mouse setup we’ve seen many times before, with no ability to directly control Delta’s movement, but some shortcuts don’t work and general inputs or menu navigation feels sluggish. You often need to reposition Delta or mash the interact button repeatedly; opening your inventory means dragging the cursor to the top-left corner as d-pad shortcuts don’t work; and some inputs – think activating a puzzle item rather than picking it back up – required mashing the interact key in combination with the quest log shortcut.
Those control gripes aside, Life of Delta is still a solid choice on console if you’re a fan of the point-and-click genre and in the mood for a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi fix. The new setting and the characters within it are great, the gameplay is a decent mix of traditional puzzles and mini-games, and I was surprised by how atmospheric and immersive the world felt. If you have the choice or are not in a rush, maybe pick it up on PC or wait for a patch to address some lingering controller issues.
Life of Delta was reviewed on Xbox Series S|X using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on PC, PS5, and Nintendo Switch.
Life of Delta (Xbox Series) ReviewLife of Delta (Xbox Series) Review
- An intriguing setting and eclectic cast
- A good balance between classic point-and-click puzzles and diverse mini-games
- A detailed quest log and the ability to skip puzzles if you get stuck
- Atmospheric and immersive presentation
- Some puzzles can frustrate if you miss visual clues
- The sluggish controls on console need work