If you spent a few hours with 2021's Sludge Life and thought "hey, I could go for seconds", then your time has come. Sludge Life 2 is here, and "seconds" is a good way to describe both the title of the game and what it contains. This is very much a more-of-the-same sort of sequel; there are no drastic reinventions to be found here, nor are there any sharp left turns when it comes to gameplay or aesthetic.
In practice, that means you're either going to vibe with Sludge Life 2 - and "vibe" really is the word - or you're going to bounce off it. If you manage to immerse yourself in its murky, swampy aesthetic and trowel-thick corporate satire, then you'll enjoy your time with Terri Vellmann and Doseone's game. If the world isn't speaking to you, Sludge Life 2 is probably going to turn into a bit of a chore, even if it shares the brevity of its predecessor.
Hey, Guess What? Sludge Life 2 Is More Sludge Life
Sludge Life 2 opens with Ghost, the tagger protagonist - or pro-tag-onist - of the first game, waking up after a particularly impressive night on the town. Iconic rapper Big Mud is missing, and as his manager, Ghost must set out on a journey across the Ciggy City Suites to find him. Once again, this permanent goal is your guide for a few hours of semi-open world platforming and toybox exploration.
Sludge Life 2 feels like a second act; it's an expansion pack rather than a fully-fledged reinvention.
That's the setup, but honestly, the setup really doesn't matter. The real gist of Sludge Life 2 is this: go explore the world, meet crazy characters, hear what they have to say, and interact with stuff. This is very much a make-your-own-fun kind of sandbox rather than a directed experience; it's the kind of game you'll spend hours with if you just want to exist in its vaporwave hellscape for a while rather than, well, get things done.
If that sounds very "second verse, same as the first", it's because Sludge Life 2 is very, very similar to the first game. There are a few more tools at your disposal now - the double-jump sneakers are particularly welcome - and the world is bigger with more stuff to find. Even still, there's so much that hasn't changed, you'll feel right at home if you enjoyed the first game. Sludge Life 2 feels like a second act; it's an expansion pack rather than a fully-fledged reinvention.
There's Lots To See And Do In Sludge Life 2
Those new items and that new world density does make a big difference, however. Sludge Life 2 is almost distractingly rammed with things to do; the play space is comparatively huge when set against the first game, and you'll constantly be wandering off the beaten path to investigate something interesting or eye-catching.
When you get there, you'll usually find one of Sludge Life 2's many collectibles, whether they be in the form of walls on which you can put your graffiti tag, Big Mud tapes (which are surprisingly well-realized and sound like they could really be underground hip-hop songs), or new doohickeys for your inventory or your laptop. These collectibles make exploring the world feel rewarding, even if they don't actually contribute to gameplay much beyond adding checks to your to-do list.
The new items themselves are also exciting and fun to use. The aforementioned sneakers let you double jump, but they also add a sprint, so moving around Sludge Life 2's play space is much faster and less time-consuming. The new Portable Launcher is also a hoot, giving you the chance to comically skyrocket into the air a la Tears of the Kingdom's towers.
Sludge Life 2 Won't Convert The Faithless
Even when you're just rounding a corner and finding a new funny line of dialogue or quirky character, they're all suffused with a punky indie sensibility that makes them feel real. Playing Sludge Life 2 made me happy that developers are still creating games with a soul; it might be short, and it might be a little too unambitious, but at least it feels like it's been made by someone who really believes in this world and wants to see it realized on screen.
If you don't want to see more of Vellmann and Doseone's warped take on the world, this sequel is going to feel like laboring a point.
That auteur style also means that Sludge Life 2 isn't interested in converting people who aren't already on board. If you played Sludge Life and hated it (and I'm a convert, but I do understand how someone could be left cold by this very unique style), then Sludge Life 2 is very much not for you. There is nothing here that feels markedly different to Sludge Life in terms of tone, gameplay, or visuals. If you don't want to see more of Vellmann and Doseone's warped take on the world, this sequel is going to feel like laboring a point.
It's also fair to say that some of Sludge Life's problems haven't really been fixed by Sludge Life 2. The controls still feel stiff and awkward in some cases, and the humor still feels like it misses the mark at times, playing perhaps more puerile than its skewering of corporate culture can accommodate. Jumping and mantling onto surfaces still doesn't quite feel right, although the double-jump sneakers have gone some way towards mitigating this issue. To put it simply, Sludge Life 2 is more Sludge Life, warts and all.
Sludge Life 2 | Final Thoughts
I enjoyed my time with Sludge Life 2, although I'm starting to get a sense of diminishing returns. Although I was on board for this strange, idiosyncratic tale of the weird inhabitants of another sludge-drenched land, I get the feeling that if there's a Sludge Life 3, it might have to start making some bigger changes to maintain an audience. Repetition and deja vu aside, though, Sludge Life 2 offers another strange few hours of exploration, collectible-hunting, and anarchy to enjoy, so strap in and prepare to get gunged.
Sludge Life 2 was reviewed on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer over the course of 2.5 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Expanded toolset makes exploration more fun
- Bigger, more exciting world to discover
- Unique aesthetic
- Doesn't feel particularly fresh
- Some problems remain from Sludge Life
- Still very short