Games about tagging always make me slightly angry. That’s solely because Sega never saw fit to release Jet Set Radio Future on PC though. The existence of Sludge Life mitigates that a bit. It’s an open-world game built around exploration and idiocy, two of my favorite things. It doesn’t last long, but I still had a good time getting to know this strange place and its stranger inhabitants. There isn’t much in the way of gameplay, but as an interactive piece of strangeness, it makes for a good way to kill a couple of hours.
Sludge Life casts you in the role of a tagger named Ghost. You live in an area that’s completely polluted by a titular gunk. There’s no water, just black sludge covering the world. The game has a lo-fi hip-hop aesthetic and a ton of personality on display. Your goal, if you choose to pursue it, is to find all 100 of the game’s tag spots and put your little booger guy spray tag in place at each. Or you can ignore that and just wander around. The game does have three endings. The first two involve interacting with specific objects, while the last actually requires you to tag all 100 spots and remember a character you may have met along the way.
The game is played in first-person and you’re meant to explore the entirety of the locations. There are apartment buildings, a research facility, and even a fast-food restaurant to be found. There are also many characters hanging around. Some of them are high as fuck on mushrooms. You can also get high as fuck on mushrooms, as there are three to find that have varying trippy effects. Far out, man. There’s nothing attacking you, though, but you can get hurt if you fall too far. But you’ll just wake up in a hospital.
Tag, you’re it!
That’s not all there is to Sludge Life, of course. There are items to find that help with progression. At one point you find a glider that lets you soar above the map and reach places you can’t otherwise. You meet the former top tagger who blinded himself if you wander into a specific storage container. Talking to him grants you his eyes in a jar. You ca then use them to find missing tag spots. Totally rational. Makes perfect sense. There are also disks to find all over that will install new programs on your laptop, which doubles as the game’s menu.
Humorously, you discard every item on the ground immediately after using it. An identical copy awaits in your inventory though, so you can’t lose anything. But that’s the basic gist of Sludge Life. You play at your own pace, take in the sights, and do a little tagging here and there. Finding all of the tag locations and thoroughly exploring the whole map took me two to three hours, but reaching either of the simpler endings can be easily accomplished in considerably less time. But I enjoyed the world. Plus the writing is both funny and surreal. If you’re interested in a trippy world to exist in for a couple of hours, I can easily recommend this game. Just watch out for those mushrooms.