When I announced to my son that we’d be reviewing Youtubers Life OMG Edition here at Finger Guns, he did a little fist pump celebration. You see, he loves YouTube and a number of influencers on there. He watches the likes of DanTDM, Stampy and PopularMMO’s religiously and is utterly inspired by them. Ask him what he wants to be when he’s older and he’d tell you emphatically “A Youtuber”, wanting to emulate the antics of his virtual heroes. It was when playing this game, Youtubers Life, that he realised that being a content creator isn’t just playing games on camera or going to Disney Land with a GoPro strapped to your head though. Emulating everything from video editing to the horrors of the comments section in simplistic fashion, this game simulates the mundane, behind the scenes jobs of a Youtuber’s life more than it does the action on screen.
When you start a new game on Youtubers Life, you have a number of choices to make. Initially, you get to choose what your in game character looks like. Here you get to pick from a reasonable selection of cosmetic designs on anything from your hair to your shoes. Next up, you get to choose what type of person you are from a selection of 6 (such as Genius, Superstar or Romantic) and the type of Youtuber you want to be from a selection of 3 – Gaming, Cooking or Music – each of which alters the minutia of the game play. Once that’s done, you get to choose your Character and Channel name, neither of which have any real baring on the game itself but is a nice touch nonetheless.
After a short tutorial on camera control, you’re then thrust into the game itself which is part business simulator and part a Chibi version of The Sims. Your character’s aim is to become a YouTube sensation but in order to do that, you need to manage every aspect of their life, all from the inside of their room. You can click and move around the room and interact with almost everything in there but area’s outside of the play zone are blacked out. At the start of the game, in your mum’s house, you’re provided with the bare minimum requirements in order to share a video on U-Tube (I’m guessing there was some copyright issues here because the platform is referred to as this throughout).
To record a video, you have to have a functioning PC and enough energy to do so. Energy is represented as a light bulb, the amount of which you have is calculated based when you last slept and ate and is reduced during activities. Recording after a good night’s sleep and on a full belly gives you a full balance of Energy to spend during recording.
Energy is spent in a mini-game that’s presented during video recording sessions. As you’re recording, text like “You found an easter egg” show up on screen, accompanied by a random pair of factors which affect the quality of your video. This could be something like +1 Script and +1 Audio. At the same time, a selection of cards are presented along the bottom of the screen, each of which comes with their own Energy cost and an effect that they’ll have on that segment of video. These cards represent common Youtuber actions like “Formal greeting” or “Sad farewell” and come with a plus or minus effects on aspects of your video. Should you play a card that has a corresponding effect to the pair that are presented with the text (like +1 Script with the text and +2 Script from a card) the two will combine (to offer a +3 effect on Script). The idea of this mini-game is to play the appropriate cards (or those you can afford with the energy you have available), making the most of the links they have with the +/- factors presented along with the text, to create a video as high in all 4 factors – Scripting, Sound, Visual Effects, Entertainment – as possible. You can then edit the video and add effects (limited by the power of your hardware until it’s upgraded), render then upload your video to U-tube, ready to be watched. The higher the quality of the video (and the popularity of what you’re recording) the higher it’s rated and the more views/subscribers it attracts.
This gameplay cycle continues for the full length of Youtubers Life OMG Edition. You manage your energy levels by sleeping and eating, record a video on a game/recipe/song, publish it for the viewing publish to consume and then watch the revenue for your videos role in. Slowly. Very, very slowly.
As you progress through the game, new options, challenges and considerations are unlocked. People will arrive at your house, barge in unannounced and ask you to record a video using their favourite game/receipt/genre of music and will offer to pay you big bucks to do so in a timely manner. Your PC will occasionally malfunction, stopping you in your tracks until you can pay to fix it (or fix it yourself once you’ve learnt how to do so). In your mum’s house, you have to study regularly throughout a month or risk getting a scolding from your matriarch. Once you’ve got your channel rolling, you can move out into ever more bigger and better digs, each of which present their own challenges (like not having a constant supply of food available from your mum’s fridge, forcing you to – shock horror – buy your own sandwiches or having to navigate shared accommodation where your roommate hogs your new games console). Then there’s rent to contend with, which goes up as you travel to new digs, but a better premises means a better internet connection, reducing upload times which means your output can increase. All of this while trying to keep your recording cycle going because if you take too long between videos, you start to lose subscribers.
As you record and publish videos on U-Tube or put yourself through courses, you gain experience in the various skills required to make more entertaining content and overall experience. This experience amounts to level up’s which expand your recording options and card deck in which to use while recording. For ever second level up, you’re also granted a talent point which can be spent in an unlock tree to unlock rewards like new video types (like first impressions and speed runs) or boosted stats from certain types of videos. Levelling up and the structured challenges of the game are well linked, giving you an almost constant stream of new things to do.
It’s a shame then that Youtubers Life OMG Edition has so many quirks and aspects that feel like an afterthought. Friendship and dating, for example, are horrendous. To win someone’s affection/friendship, you simply have to talk to them and choose 1 of the available topics some of which they’ll like, some of which they don’t. Pick a topic they like and their “like” of you increases but choose poorly, say by talking about U-Tube when your friend has no interest in it, and they’ll get irrationally angry at you. It’s pot luck trial and error as you’re not given an indication of what a person’s likes or values are beyond how good they are at being a U-Tuber. Similarly, if you’ve already got a friend but are too busy to go to a party/the cinema with them, they’ll often declare their friendship with you as over.
Then there’s the content of the videos you create. The gaming topic is by far the most thoroughly thought through category in Youtubers Life OMG Edition, offering tongue-in-cheek titles like ‘Half Lie 2’ and the ‘Mantendo Game Toy Advanced’ console to play and record on. It’s a little disappointing however, that you don’t actually get to see the games you’re making videos of outside of a few mini-games (which are knock offs of Space Invaders and the likes) that you play at conferences. The cooking and music paths are nowhere near as well-crafted though. For example, in the Cooking path, I’d managed to put out a few mediocre videos based on the simplistic 2 ingredients I was able to use such as Steak and Pepper and Egg and Rice. Suddenly, a super star chef has arrived at my door, claiming to have been impressed by my videos (which I repeat, was of peppered Steak and Egg Fried Rice) and asked me if I wanted to work with her in her restaurant. Yeah. Right. This game makes bizarre leaps of logic often – One example is when a publisher arrives at your door to offer you a book deal, but if you accept it, the publishing company then realises that you’re not famous enough and no one is interested in your book (despite being the ones that reached out to you!?!).
Lastly, there’s the camera, which is unwieldy on consoles. This is compounded by a cluttered UI that’s trying to show a lot at once, some of which isn’t immediately required at all times.
Youtubers Life OMG Edition is a life simulator first and foremost, with the U-Tuber aspect almost irrespective of the core game cycle. In fact, you could seamlessly replace “recording Youtube videos” with “creating song” or “recording podcast” and this could quite easily be “Garageband Life” or “Soundcloud Life” instead. Where the game does succeed is to highlight how a Youtuber’s life is, I imagine, bizarre and hard work at times, especially when you’ve got creepy events like fans offering you cash for an item of your clothes. It’s droll and witty at times but a slog and confusing at others, presents a skin deep interpretation of dating but with a strangely appealing structure that keeps you playing. While the core cycle has been done many times before and better than it is here, there’s a youthful, innocent charm to Youtubers Life that’s undeniable. Unfortunately, that doesn’t cover up all the peculiar leaps of logic and the pedestrian, mundane nature of the game.
Youtubers Life OMG Edition is available now on PS4 (Review version), Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Developer: Raiser Games
Publisher: U Play
Disclaimer – In order to complete this review, we received a copy of the game from the publishers. Please see our review policy for more information.