I love the artwork in this game! The demon was so super cool looking. Great to play for Halloween! I tried to voice act it as I played along.
The Life We've Chosen
A downloadable game for Windows, macOS, and Linux
Willow has been dealing with their inner demons for as long as they can remember, but the real demon in their backyard is still an enigma to them.
The Life We've Chosen is a melancholy but hopeful story about a person choosing how to deal with their demons, both inner and external.
Even in the darkest depths of loneliness, there may be something worth holding onto.
Please read the content warnings before playing!
- Mental illness (depression)
- Discussion of death (no on-screen death, no suicidal thoughts)
- Brief reference to past self-harm
- Unhealthy relationships + possibly unwanted romantic advances
- ~1 hour of playtime, 8000 words
- 3 endings
- Story, art and programming by Cryoslight (Twitter)
- Music by Eric Matyas at soundimage.org
- Photos from unsplash.com
- Sound effects from freesound.org
You may also enjoy my other visual novels:
Click download now to get access to the following files:
- The Life We've Chosen: Post-mortemOct 08, 2021
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I love the artwork in this game! The demon was so super cool looking. Great to play for Halloween! I tried to voice act it as I played along.
Very atmospheric. :)
ending three was THE BEST ending by far. it was such an interesting concept to play through
How do I get ending three???
Hi, I'll answer your question below to avoid spoiling anyone!
There are only two choices that matter for Ending 3, and the first one of those choices you might not even encounter during your playthrough, in which case there is only one choice that matters. You only encounter the first choice if you kiss Ella. After the kiss, you must answer:
"No. I won't leave them."
After that, the only important choice left is this:
"I'd like you to stay."
I hope that helps!
Really fantastic work! The art is gorgeous and the writing is excellent - it captures melancholy, despair, and hope in a really lovely way. I absolutely would have read further philosophical conversations with the demon! They were very well done. The story in general is somber and relatable, without being overly unsettling.
I've been reflecting a on life a great deal lately - the choices we make, the paths our lives take, and what it means to be happy. This was perfect for a quite evening alone with my thoughts. <3
Even if I will die tomorrow, the time that I spent reading your visual novel was well spent. This is sad, but kind fiction.
The lesson that I learned: it's worth to miss out everything else if you're doing a thing that you love. So don't try to not miss out things (you will anyway), try to find a thing that you will love, something that would be well worth price of missing out all other things.
Thank you for the beautiful comment! I hope you live a long time. Everyone has a different path in life so I know the "lesson" of this game is not going to apply to everyone, but it's something I continue to experience over and over in my own life. So I wanted to share it. :) I'm glad the message resonated with you as well!
And one more thing. It happend to me, that the demon in this story looks like allegorical portrayal of ... mathematics. Both are ancient, eternal and from beyond this world (abstractions and concepts don't exist in our world), both can look scary, both require to be approached in thoughtful and careful way in order to communicate with them and even when they answer they are very laconic and every their "word" has weight. By systematically asking them both will, piece by piece, reveal you about the world beyond our world. And in both cases they know so much, that you will never learn all in your lifetime.
Thus we can view it as story of a woman who found joy and solace in becoming an amauter mathematician. Who decided to spend her limited time on Earth to explore eternal world of mathematics, rather than experience ephemeral things of our ever-changing mortal world.
I've just downloaded the game and hope to play it for the first time tomorrow (it's quite late here), so I can't yet speak to how I feel about the game, but reading this comment actually just made me realize I like mathematics. I've spent most of my life complaining about math and saying I hated it, but your comment and my recent interest in chaos theory and fractals have made me realize that math is exactly my thing, I just haven't really understood what it was outside of school learning, so thank you!
Im glad that I saw this just after our break in school. I do enjoy playing this and go through all the endings. I also like the background sounds and the characters <3
I've finally had some time to play this and go through all the endings, From the little bits I'd seen of your development/others comments, I knew it would likely be a sad game but I also found it soothing/relaxing. I think the music selection + writing itself was a big factor in that. At the same time, I really felt the main character's emotions at key parts, like when her idea didn't go as planned and her friend's reaction.
The mix of drawn assets + perfectly selected backgrounds / music really meshed together well.
I'm not sure if itch has spoiler notation so I hope this is enough to make a read-more prompt:
- SPOILER -
- the End 3 CG was really gorgeous! I was curious if we'd get to see Haze from a different angle, the design is really cool!
- Love the inclusion of the after credit message in that ending as well
- At first I thought End 2 was the saddest one, but after playing through End 1, I think to me that one is actually saddest. The imagery of Willow biking down to the lake each time only to be met with nothing an the mix of emotions (disappointment, guilt). It makes me wonder what the demon's POV was when they decided to leave. How long did they wait for her to come back? etc.
Overall, really enjoyable!
I really liked this. When I got to the choice I was like "oh no I gotta pick between being a lesbian or a monster[REDACTED]" which is a terrible choice to make lol. But real talk, I liked how things sorted out. I'm kind of a sucker for pining....
The whole package : ambiance, beautiful graphics without being gaudy, dark but not gory, and a subtle story with a relatable MC <3
I came from a long row of un-ending beautiful and superficial VN, so it's like, "wow, I didn't know it, but I craved for this kind of story !".
Althought I wonder if I got the gist of what you wanted to say. Like. I didn't really get the unhealty relationship part. Is it because her friend is always helping her onesidedly ?
I'm not sure it's *that* unhealty ? She's hardly dependant, she has a lot of pride, a house, even a work...
In the central scene where you get in argument with your friend that kisses you, I felt a bit frustrated by the "no avalaible option" after you say you won't abandon your relationship with the demon.
In MC's shoes, I'd totally stop her from leaving, because I don't want to lose any of them. I think I'd slump in front of the car and show how much of a mess I am. No pride. The whole "I'm a mess, I want to talk it out, I just can't cut off the people I love, including you. You'll have to make me, and it will be easy, because I'm so tired and sad. Roll on me if I care. Or let's talk it off inside instead ? Your pick."
Anyway. I wish I had this option, because my depressed self is like that : no self-esteem. Numb but also, afraid of being even more so losing people (... I guess it could turn ugly, like. No self esteem is disgusting to a lot of people, or a ticket for abuse T_T)..
On the critic side, I found weird she'd talk about work stuff being late, and then, just tossing it aside as if it wasn't there ?
Aherm. And thank you for the trip.
Thank you for the comment! :) I understand your critique on the way the relationship with the friend turned out. If I'd had more time during the jam, I would have written more foreshadowing and such to make it obvious that the friendship is toxic.
The friend has a certain idea of what's "wrong" with the MC: the MC lives alone, is single, has no car, doesn't socialize with the correct people, etc. None of those things are actually problems, but the friend thinks she knows what's best for the MC and is always trying to help them in ways the MC doesn't really want or need. The friend likes being "the competent one" in the relationship. Basically she looks down on the MC.
The story is about the MC discovering their self-confidence and trying to change the relationship that isn't making them happy. Unfortunately the friend refuses to listen (because the MC's new confidence threatens her position as the MC's savior), and the MC decides it's better to end the relationship than to keep talking to a wall. It's not pretty, but it's what the MC needs in that moment.
Maybe someday the friend will experience character growth and she'll be willing to set her ego aside and actually listen to the MC? But currently she's just not there.
Sorry this reply is a bit long, I got carried away! Wish I'd had time to show the nature of the relationship better in-game. Thanks again!
It means a lot to me you took time to explain, I feel pampered <3
I also feel like I understand again the story !
I though she wasn't "that" pushy because she just suggested stuff without pushing thaat much. But guess she shows a lot of her "true" color on the demon stuff (although it could be simply explained by... panic).
Haaa ! I wish jams where longers ! - Anyway, hoping to enjoy more stories from you again :)
This game is absolutely excellent!
A sensible, brilliant and very moving approach to a very complex and hard-to-tackle-well topic.
If this was a book, I would be hugging it right now! I played through all of the endings, each more beautiful than the one before. You've done something wonderful and it has moisturized my cheeks. Thank you for making this!
Thank you for reading! Not many people seem to have gotten the bad ends before getting the good end, so it's nice to see you did and enjoyed the experience! Thank you for the kind comment. :)
I've now played The Life We've Chosen, and I really enjoyed it. I like the relationships between the different characters--they feel complex with a lot of past happenings that have made the relationships they way they are now. I also love the art and how polished it looks. I said before that when I fist saw one of the CGs, I thought it was a still from an animated films/series, and I still stand by that. Thank you so much for making this visual novel! <3
Thank you, Katy! <3 I was a little worried there might not be enough background info about the characters in the game (because I had to cut a bunch of stuff out), so I'm happy to hear it was enough to be interesting! I'm super happy with the CG you mentioned, too. Thank you!!
Wow, did not expect to feel so wrapped up in the conversations with the demon. My heart broke a little during the ending, fantastic writing. Loved every second of the story, the setting felt so eerie yet calming.
Spoilers ahead for anyone that hasn't played the game yet (you should, by the way).
I wasn't really sure what I was expecting when I started the game, but I ended up enjoying the experience thoroughly. Finished it in around ~45 minutes, but I didn't feel like I'd rushed it; I am a quick reader.
I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the characters; considering the relatively short length of the game, and the lack of backstory provided regarding them, I felt I had a reasonable understanding of who they were and what they wanted; minus Haze, that wasn't clear to me until near the end of the game.
This might sound silly (I don't play Visual Novels very often at all), but I didn't know the backgrounds/sprites moved between "levels"/"scenes". So when I was reading along and the eyes of the characters were moving, I kept looking up going "Did those move? I think they moved... Nah they didn't move", and then felt very silly when I realized they were in fact moving. Anyway, I don't know if minimal movement is the norm or not, but I liked that the movements (such as eyes, eyebrows, smiles, etc.) when talking with Haze were very subtle, vs. the other character whose name I've forgotten because she's not important! Ending 3, if you couldn't tell. The subtle movements fitted the sad/melancholy theme perfectly, and made the big movement reveal at the end all the more impressive and unexpected. The art itself was great, very impressive; I wish I could draw/design like that, well done.
When the choices came up, I found myself sitting back and pondering for a few minutes, weighing up the pros and cons of the decisions; all except the last decision, that Demon is staying here, no pondering time required. It's not often a game gets me to stop and think like that; I won't lie, I was torn choosing between Ella and Haze. One might have offered a loving relationship at best, and a dysfunctional friend-zoned one at worst, while the other would have offered a proper friendship and their wisdom at best, and possible death/torture/other bad 'Demon stuff' at worst; it was a tough pick, but I was glad I picked Haze in the end; I think he needed Willow just about as much as Willow needed Haze.
I thought the mental health aspect was very tastefully applied; some games take it a bit too far, but you hit the nail on the head I reckon. I was very much expecting Ella to walk up to the lake and go "Ok why are we here?", which could have sent Willow into some deep spiral as she questioned her sanity, what's real and what's not, etc., but no, Haze is real, and in that moment it solidified to me that Haze was acting with Willow's best interests at heart, and it wasn't just Willow's own mind toying with her. I might be reading into it a little too much, but I wonder if Willow was so accepting of Haze as a direct result of her mental struggles? I was worried that Willow was a little too trusting of Haze, in that she didn't seem to question if Haze was real or not, which in itself spoke volumes regarding her mental health and added another layer of complexity to the character, but, alas, Haze was real.
I started writing this with the intention of leaving a review, and it seems to have just declined in me writing my rambles on the page, so, hopefully you find something in here useful.
TL;DR: Good story, good characters, themes well applied; definitely worth a playthrough.
Hey, thank you for giving my game a spin even though you haven't played many visual novels before! I'm glad you liked the experience. That must have been a weird intro to visual novels.
I made the demon's facial expressions extra subtle due to their personality. They've kept their emotions buried for many many years and it's going to take some time and effort to thaw them out. :)
You know, during development I did toy with the idea of having the demon be a figment of the protagonist's imagination, but that thought was brief as it felt a bit too dark for me. I also thought about making it so that the demon is real, but for whatever reason only the protagonist can see them, and the friend character can't. That would have made it so that the friend literally can't see the protagonist's struggles. In the end I went with the simplest option which was "the demon can be as visible or invisible as they want," haha. That was the easiest way for me to tell the story I wanted: the friend can see the protagonist's struggles, she just doesn't want to deal with them.
Thank you so much for the comment!
I already left a comment on Twitter but I just finished up the other two routes and ahhHHHH
My curiosity piqued when you showed off the demon companion and even more so with the summary and I'm glad I played this! I got attached to Haze real quickly but honestly, their design is so cool to look at I love all the little details you carved into their sprite (as well as that one epic CG with the wings omg!!).
I also love the whimsical, almost somberly forlorn tone that goes on in this piece. The demon is very frank in their thoughts but also attuned to Willow in a way that feels lowkey really sweet. I was also surprised to see the demon has a more human-esque looking form but somehow that also feels appropriate considering that, despite the initial look of the sprite, they are very human?? In a way??
It was also neat how you handled Willow's character. Willow felt very real and fleshed out, even if her time with the player is brief (or, well, it felt too brief to me ;w;) and I like how her chats with the demon are almost philosophical in nature (especially in ending 3 which was a nice touch since it felt like it drove home the melancholy air of hope that was building).
Anyways, that said, this was really neat! I can tell you put a lot of effort into making this game and I think that definitely shines through with how teary I got at the end of ending 3 fghjgfhjfg
Thank you so much for all the kind words! I'm so happy you took the time to play through all the endings. Although End 3 is the "main" ending I totally have a soft spot for End 2 - it was my favorite to write.
It was hard to balance the demon's blunt nature and affection towards the protagonist, so it makes me especially glad to hear the balancing act worked out. There was originally going to be even more philosophical chat but I had to cut some of it out due to time constraints. </3
Thank you again!
I'm in love with the aesthetics! And Ella lol. I'm so happy we get to k- Wait, I shouldn't spoil. *sweats*
The story is beautifully written!! It was easy to connect with the characters and feel their feelings to the point, it was hard to make decisions and see the results😭 But in the end, I loved everyone and the endings🥺❤️❤️
Amazing work with the sprites and CGs. It gave the story such a calming feeling.
The game was truly enjoyable🥰☺️ Amazing work.
Very enjoyable. I got ending 3, precisely the one I desired to happen, glad the game had it. I ended up loving the demon character, which I think is a 'demon' only in name and appearance.
I liked the quasi-retro design of the characters, Was the demon design inspired by the 'Vrock' from D&D? I like the pallete and sharpness of the sprites, but I think the demon should have a bigger eye design so its eye-shifting anymation is more noticeable.
I felt echoes of your previous work 'I'll Come See You' on this one.
The music selection is great. A few more sound effects here and there would improve the reading experience. No flaws to point out in the backgrounds/CGs. It would be great if the whole novel could have been done with drawn backgrounds.
I'm looking foward to see more VNs from Cryoslight. I have nothing but respect for a fellow Dev who does things solo, including the art.
And a shout out for having individual versions of the game for both Win, Mac, and Linux. That is the way to do it, IMHO.
Wow, thank you for the thorough comment! I'm glad you had a good time with the game. I also would have loved to add more sound effects and have custom backgrounds, but there was no time.
I've never played D&D so I'm not familiar at all with its creatures. I'm sure I was subconsciously inspired by some other designs, though, as it's hard to avoid that. Oh! I think I stole the eyes from the yahg species from Mass Effect. I wanted the demon to have small eyes so that they wouldn't appear too cute, haha.
I'm really happy you picked up on the fact that the demon may not necessarily even be a demon! They never said they were. Perhaps the human characters just like to make assumptions.