This is a bit of a difficult one to review but I felt like it was something that needed to be talked about. Lifeline isn’t a game per se, more of an experience and an extremely interesting one at that. To cut a long story short I highly encourage you to go download this as it’s best experienced going in without knowing too much about it. However, I will keep things extremely brief as to not potentially spoil anything.
Lifeline is published by 3 Minute Games and is written by David Justus. The story is of a man called Taylor, who, having crashed onto a random planet sends out messages in hope of communicating with someone. That someone just happens to be you. You are his point of contact, his lifeline if you will, as he is abandoned on an unfamiliar planet after his ship, the starship Varia and its crew crash land on a barren planet. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to spoil the experience for you, but honestly it’s a super fascinating story that is told purely through text and as you communicate with Taylor you’re occasionally given choice to make throughout the conversation that can shape and mould not just conversation points but events that happen in the story. Much like a choose your own adventure, only you’re told it through somebody else’s experience as he tries to survive a multitude of random events.
The main crux of the game is that it is told in real time. The story lasted maybe 4-5 days where Taylor would talk to me about his time on this unknown planet and occasionally ask me questions where I would then answer from two choices presented to me. My iPhone and Apple Watch would alert me once every so often when I had a new incoming message from Taylor and I was so engrossed by it that I would actively go out of my way to see what he had to say. Sometimes he would update me about a situation i’d sent him into or sometimes he’d just want to talk about narrate his time on a planet. If you’ve ever seen The Martian that’s pretty much Taylor. He’s just trying to keep composed while you can clearly see he’s understandably losing his mind at the fact he’s stranded, feeling like he’s going to die in an unfamiliar and deadly environment. The writing itself is very well done and creates a seamless, intricately woven story. You feel a connection with Taylor and he is written so well that you feel sympathetic to his current predicament. Sometimes he’ll ask for advice or sometimes he’ll just want to talk to someone and you can learn about him and try and make idle chit chat with him to lighten up the mood of the conversation to make him feel better. People’s stories and events will most likely differ to
the ones I had and I would be very interested as to how dramatically it differs. I was very happy with the story I got but I can see that at key points it could vastly differ from what I got. At the end of the story you’re then given the choice to go back to the beginning to change your options and see the different outcomes from those decisions.The interface itself is just text and not a lot else. Obviously in a text based adventure I didn’t expect anything more than that but it didn’t need anything else. The writing is so strong you don’t need any visual cues as the writing and descriptive narrative is so strong.
For a relatively straightforward concept it is executed very well and it would be a pity for someone to miss out on it. Taylor has a very strong personality and although you’re only given two choices at any given time at key points in the story you feel that your choices could have dramatically impacted Taylor and put him in precarious positions whilst other times your choices aren’t life or death but simply choosing what you feel to be an appropriate response to a question or conversation piece. It’s very unique and very well written. A simple yet effective experience and one that I strongly encourage anyone to try for themselves.