Like most gaming journalists, I couldn’t wait to review Your Thirties, the hotly anticipated release from Life Studios ($59.99 on Xbox, Playstation, and Steam). I’ll get to the point quickly, though—something Your Thirties seems incapable of doing—and let you know this game is a major disappointment. Overall, Your Thirties is a sad step back from Life Studio’s joyous debut, Your Childhood, the action-packed Your Twenties, or even Your Adolescence, which was at least ambitious, despite being a problematic mess.

Starting with the writing, Your Thirties’ characters and relationships are woefully superficial. My character seemed to have only robotic and cursory interactions with a handful of coworkers and friends, most of whom regarded my character with indifference.

While plenty evil, the bosses were nearly impossible to keep straight, partly due to their sheer number, the constant reuse of the same sixty-five-ish Caucasian character model, and unvaried backstory. Another billionaire CEO? How I long for a simple alien invasion or hellmouth! The plot offers no catharsis, as the player grows increasingly frustrated, realizing they will never grow strong enough to confront these villains.

The gameplay loop is no better, and quickly devolves into pointless monotony. Fetch quests abound—by the time I hit my thirtieth Commute side quest, I was already cursing the lack of a basic fast-travel feature. The busy work adds nothing and is a shameless effort to pad out the much-advertised 87,600 hours of gameplay.

That’s to say nothing of downright bugs. Often I completed a quest such as Dishwashing or Oil Change only to be prompted to just do it all over again. Or, upon loading, my character would just refuse to get out of bed.

Honestly, I probably would have quit if not for the dog sidekick.

Perhaps the game’s most inexcusable feature is its exploitative monetization scheme. Despite paying $59.99 for the game, an egregious pay-to-play ecosystem keeps key features out of reach for most players—such as Home Ownership, Children, and the rumored 401(k) Legendary Item. Other expensive items are required to play the game but offer no discernible gameplay benefit whatsoever, such as Dentistry or Social Security Tax.

Your Thirties also sorely lacks a progression scheme to develop a compelling character. I found my protagonist boring, incompetent, and downright unlikable. While the world is full of epic threats with great story potential, my character had almost no opportunity to influence them, making me question why they were the protagonist at all. And unlike the exhilarating progression in Your Twenties, my character actually grew weaker and less intelligent as they advanced to later levels!

Judging from Reddit, some frustrated players have resorted to grinding the easier Workplace quests until they can afford pricey in-game upgrades like Therapy or Crossfit (though the skill tree allows you to choose only one).

And then there’s the mess of a class system. Despite the apparent equivalence between subclasses like Teacher and Coder, you’ll need to consult our strategy guide to build a character with any chance of advancing past the early levels. Maddeningly, if you realize these differences too late, there is no ability to re-specialize your character, without the prohibitively priced Back to Grad School upgrade. I’m baffled why they removed this player-friendly feature, which was free and straightforward in Your Adolescence.

Finally, Life did not address widespread complaints from beta testing about players receiving differing numbers of skill points. My character started with ten skill points, which I mainly allocated to Podcast Listening and Gourmet Popcorn Preparation, leaving nothing for skills such as Self-Esteem and Dunking. However, my colleague received 100,000 points, allowing him to max out every skill, including critical ones such as Generational Wealth and Triceps. Life Studios refused to comment, and we can only conclude that this is a misguided feature rather than a bug, as presumed.

Hopefully, the next entry in the series will reverse these missteps, but somehow I doubt it.

Amazing graphics, though!