Game: Lifeline v1.6.4
Developer: 3 Minute Games LLC
Lifeline is a text-based choose your own adventure style game that was originally designed for use with the Apple Watch, but has made it to Android as well. I do not know whether the game works with the Samsung S series watches or not as I tried to find details one way or the other, but it certainly comes across well on Android phones.
As mentioned before, this is a text-based adventure game so visuals are pretty limited. You get a nice initial opening piece of art when you start the game and then it quickly transitions to the main game interface. To its credit, the interface is simple and clean, with text that is easy to read, a critical point for a game of this nature. It also manages despite the simplicity to evoke a "space-like communication" feeling that is nice. Outside of the game, the game's notifications have an appropriate icon that is appealing to look at. I wish the game gave the player a few bits of artwork depicting some of the details of the game's world, but for what it is, the visuals are solid.
Audio-wise, again, not much to work with due to the nature of the game. It has an appropriately creepy short sci-fi theme that repeats constantly while you're playing the game. During your communications, the texts come through with a nice sci-fi bleep tone that again manages to emphasize the atmosphere. You can turn all the effects and music off if you want to as well. I wish they gave you a little more variety on both fronts at different points of the game, but again, what is there works well.
Now we come to the critical points of the game, the story and gameplay. Without spoiling too much, as the player you receive a desperate SMS-like transmission from a cadet named Taylor. His ship has crashed on a mysterious moon for reasons unknown, he's separated from his crew, and you as the player are somehow the only one his communicator can reach. Taylor is alone and not confident in his ability to survive in this environment, so he needs your help and companionship to get him through to safety. Cadet Taylor will present you with various binary choices and it's your job to advise him. The choices can be just simple conversation pieces, but they can also be choices critical to Taylor's survival. As an example, one choice involves you looking up something for Taylor to determine how dangerous it is for Taylor to do. A key point, and this might be a major negative for some players, is that on your first playthrough, the game is played in real time. In this context what that means is that while you can respond to Taylor's texts at any time, if say, Taylor has to sleep, you will have to wait a realistic amount of time for Taylor to get some sleep. So in the case of Taylor sleeping, you might be waiting five or six hours multiple times depending on how your initial playthrough is going before Taylor communicates with you again. If Taylor has to walk a long distance, you might be waiting thirty minutes to an hour before getting a response from Taylor. For myself, this helped immerse me more in the game, but I can see it being a point of frustration for some. I will say that once your first playthrough is over, whether you get a positive ending or not, you are given the option to rewind the game to different points and you have the option to play it in fast mode, so the messages come immediately and you do not have to wait a "realistic" amount of time for Taylor to do something. This also aides replay value since it allows you to explore the various paths and endings of the game. If you are outside of the game interface, you will receive Taylor's SMS-like notifications when he is talking to you.
This gameplay concept requires a great story and great writing to work, and Lifeline delivers that in spades. Cadet Taylor comes across as a person you can relate to who runs the gamut of emotions through his or her experience; though, the gender of Taylor is not stated. Taylor will banter with the player, throwing in silly pop culture and movie references to the point of annoyance at times, Taylor will be self-pitying at times, angry sometimes, but throughout the writing critically manages to get the player invested emotionally in Taylor's survival. It amazed me that I was genuinely saddened on my first playthrough of the game when I got Taylor killed after trying to help the cadet for a few days. There is also a fair amount of world-building done through Taylor's descriptions of his environment, and likewise this is handled very well. The story and writing overall is high quality stuff no matter which ending you as the player end up getting. I wish the game had a few more frills, but it manages to deliver an unique experience and at a price point of $0.99 is a great value for fans of science fiction novels, story-based games, and stuff like The Martian.
- Clean interface.
- Good sci-fi theme.
- Great writing and story.
- Unique emotional experience.
- Lack of artwork.
- Lack of music tracks.
- First playthrough real-time gameplay might frustrate.
Device/OS used: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 / Lollipop 5.1.1
Purchase at Google Play
Purchase at Amazon
Mobilism: Lifeline v1.6.4