Yes, I'm abducting my neighbors and sawing them up in a series of ritual murders, but I have a really good reason you guys

A murderer
(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

There's nothing I like more in games than snooping around. Give me a computer to hack, a window to peek through, a conversation to eavesdrop on, and I'm happy as a clam. When I heard there was an entire game called Life Eater about observing my neighbors and learning their routines and habits, I was definitely ready to become an amateur private investigator.

One teeny tiny caveat to the fun snoopery at hand is that Life Eater is 'horror fantasy kidnapping simulator' and the reason I'm spying on my neighbors is so I can determine the best time to abduct them so I can break their bones, cut out their internal organs, and stab them in the heart.

Don't judge me just yet. I'm a desperate, haunted loner (ahem, in the game) who follows the orders of a mysterious "lord of the earth" who keeps telling me the world is going to end unless I annually brutally murder and ceremonially eviscerate somebody. So, really, if you think about it, kidnapping someone and tearing out their intestines is all for a good cause.

I'm given a target to observe, an amount of time to spend spying on them (60 hours until the world ends, for example), and a timeline broken into segments that represents their daily activities, which start out as blanks. To reveal one of these segments, I choose an action that costs me time and suspicion. Maybe I read their mail, which is low risk and quick, but it might not reveal anything. Or I could try a stakeout, which will cost me 6 hours and be pretty damn suspicious, but is guaranteed to uncover whatever activity they're doing.

As I spend time and their suspicion of me rises, I can uncover their timeline and piece together more information about them—when they sleep, if they have a job, do they live alone or with family, do they have friends. Sometimes I learn something that makes me feel better about the fact that I'm going to carve them up and cut out their lungs, but sometimes they seem just like regular people. Ah, well! Can't be having the world end, right?

(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

When I've learned enough about my target I can abduct them, and then I'm given a sort of exam by my dark lord while I slice open their still-warm bodies. How long did my victim sleep per night? Do they have children? How often do they use the bathroom? Depending on what I've learned from the victims timeline, I'm directed to snap certain bones and carve out specific organs. 

This will definitely save the world, I'm sure of it, and I should absolutely trust the deity that tells me that the details of someone's daily commute to work will determine whether or not I should cut their pancreas out. It all makes perfect sense.

I'm definitely not haunted by the unspeakable acts I've performed.

After I dispense with each victim, a blissful year passes where I don't have to murder anyone and I'm definitely not haunted by the unspeakable acts I've performed. But the next year is always trickier than the last. My trustworthy god ups the stakes by instructing me to kill someone with a specific quality (like having no job) and I have to investigate multiple people at once, using three different timelines, to figure out which one to sacrifice. 

Another year I'm told to kill a guy in a coma, but I have to spy closely on his caregivers to determine when he's alone and thus can be safely abducted. This god of mine is really making it tough to save the world, isn't he?

(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

Speaking of the world, I haven't saved it yet, but I'm having a pretty good time with the snooping part of the game. The timeline works a lot like a video timeline, if you've ever done any editing with a program like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut. There's a bit of strategy, especially when you're spying on multiple people and trying to suss out a specific quality, or when you're weighing up how much time you have left and how suspicious your targets are getting. 

I do wish there was a bit more to the actual sacrificing part of Life Eater—I don't mean more gore, I mean more requirements for the exam. It's always the same six questions, and even for a mad god and a madder servant, it's hard to understand why I always need to know how many bathroom breaks my victim needs in a day to determine which of his lungs to remove.

(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

But hey, what do I know? I'm just a guy trying to save the world. I'll leave the finer details to the booming voice in my head.

You can find Life Eater on Steam. In the interest of full disclosure, Xalavier Nelson Jr., creative director of Strange Scaffold, developer of Life Eater, was formerly a contributor to PC Gamer.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.