Lifeline App Review: [EBongo is busy]
As I am lent to doing every so often, the mood struck me recently to spend some play some mobile games that cost real physical dollars. “Free to Play” doesn’t annoy me as much as many, but it does sometimes feel like the diet soda of gaming… it reminds you of that delicious sugar you used to love, but it just isn’t the same. So far I am five dollars into my crazy app spending spree, and I’ve already gotten a lot of enjoyment out of one of my first purchases: Lifeline.
Lifeline is a narrative text-based game which reveals the story of a stranded astronaut named Taylor. The story telling is done by way of dialog between you and Taylor which is made to look very much like a conversation with a real person. At regular intervals, you are prompted with one of two conversation options – usually a binary decision of “do this” or “do that”. Relatively few external clues are given about which is the better path, but Taylor will often give his opinion – and ultimately the events that unfold in the game feel like something you experience in real time as Taylor relays them to you.
A Different Perspective
One of the things I like most about Lifeline is the extent to which the whole game mechanic feels experimental to me. For the most part, the dialog with Taylor in Lifeline comes across as incredibly immersive using an extremely lightweight mechanic of simulated text communication and binary decision making. That’s it. The clever folks over at 3 Minute Games managed to imagine a platform for narrative that gels so well with the “tweet and txt” trend, that it does a great job of simulating a conversation with a lost astronaut somewhere in the galaxy. As I got invested in the game, I began to imagine a ton of further applications of this concept. When I think of some of my favorite narrative heavy games like Dyscourse or the TellTale series, I realize how much I’d like to interact with those characters one on one in this way. I enjoy reading, but one of the reasons I end up finding myself playing games more often than reading books is that I just love the interaction with the fiction. Lifeline delivers that interaction in a package so simple and accessible, it almost… sinister.
Worth it… Seriously
Despite plenty of belief in the value of a good game, I still hesitate a little when buying apps that cost a few bucks. Primarily this stems from distrust in the App Store marketplace, as it appears to be a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but I also give some consideration to whether my attention span for certain apps might be so brief that I won’t feel like I got my money’s worth. Well Lifeline is definitely a game you won’t regret purchasing as long as you like narrative games. Your first play through can take a while (if you make the right choices), but after you finish you’ll unlock a “new game+” type mode which makes it possible to go back to any decision point in the past and change it. This creates sort of a meta “butterfly effect” game where you can go back in time and see how different the experience will be if you made one simple choice differently. I’ll also throw in my two cents that I love that the game has time delays in it, where Taylor just goes and does his own thing and checks back with you later. I think that adds some realism, but it also let’s me forget about the game for a while and then be pleasantly surprised when Taylor comes back with an update. It’s also nice because sometimes [EBongo is busy], and with only a few quick choices I can have Taylor off taking action while I do other things.
Overall I found Lifeline to be a solid app worth checking out. What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know!
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Experimental narrative elements that usually land. Sure to be the inspiration for many future “dialog” narrative games.