Golly 2.0

Free open source version of The Game of Life


  • Lots of impressive pre-set animations
  • An almost unlimited number of cell combinations


  • Very hard to understand at first
  • Mainly designed for mathematicians

Not bad

If you've ever heard of 'The Game of Life' then you'll probably like what you see in Golly.

The Game of Life is a simple set of rules also known as 'cellular automation', which was originally developed in the 1970s. The Game of Life is played on a grid of square cells which are either 'dead' or 'alive'. The state of each cell depends on its neighbors. If a cell is surrounded by 3 or more live cells for example, it will become live itself but if it's less than this, it will die. It probably sound a bit dull and uninspiring at first glance and Golly is indeed a little hard to understand at first.

However, the key to the game is that you never know which cells are going to die or emerge and the result is that highly random and complex structures form as a result. The great thing is that Golly comes bundled with hundreds of different pre-programmed structures to get you started. Alternatively, you can create your own. The bad thing is that Golly does take a lot of working out.

Although the help guide is extensive, Golly is a complex mathematical puzzle based on algorithms and cellular automation that are beyond the understanding of most general users. Whilst the animations are quite cool and impressive, it's hard to see where the gaming, or even puzzle value is, in Golly.

For mathematicians and Game of Life fans, Golly will surely appeal but for all others, it will probably remain just a collection of retro animations.

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