You know what the PC platform needs? More mobile ports. Said no one ever. Lifeline is a interactive adventure game that takes place entirely on a scrolling text message style screen. Published by hidden object game fanatics, Big Fish Games, Lifeline has you take on the role of helping a survivor of a spaceship crash. All seems okay so far, right?
Lifeline has an interesting story, that many sci-fi fans will enjoy. It’s another text adventure game akin to the likes of Emily is Away Too, so I may not be the exact target audience, nonetheless I found the story interesting enough.
The protagonist, named Taylor is stranded on a moon on the furthest edge of the galaxy. Taylor is a science student who has survived the crash of her spaceship, Varia. It’s your task to guide Taylor through challenging scenarios and situations which can sometimes result in life or death. The two characters build up a relationship, and kept me concerned about the well being of the young scientist. The end of the game had me even more intrigued as things really do ramp up.
The story is by far the best aspect of this game.
The whole game takes place from a phone style text message screen. Taylor will be your annoying friend and send multiple one lined sentences in quick succession, blowing up your phone and giving you a seizure as you try and keep up with the scrolling text. At times when trying to keep up it actually made my head physically hurt. The text moves way too fast, and with it being on such a small screen, you can only see four or five lines at once. I had to result in just looking away from the screen when Taylor was sending messages and then make use of the side scrolling bar to catch up with what was said; otherwise it felt as if my eyes were about to pop out of my head.
Very little to report on in the sound department. Music is your classic sci-fi spooky themed track. Nothing fancy, nothing spectacular. It adds to the theme of the game, but doesn’t exactly evoke emotion from the story. A few additional tracks would have been nice when the situation changes, or you start a special event though.
Only other sound effects come from when you are selecting which dialog option to take. A pretty satisfying clicking sound effect; but that’s it from the audio. A little bit of a let down, even though nothing more could really have been added.
Gameplay is where Lifeline hugely let me down. The premise behind the game is to continue dialog with Taylor. I was perfectly happy following along with the story, and asking Taylor to go explore the wreckage of her crashed ship, only for a message to popup on the screen that said “Taylor is busy now”. I then notice the line above it said something along the lines of “this could take an hour, I’ll message you when I’m back”. I think to myself…surely not? I minimise the game and head to the forums; yep the game plays out in real time. The game expects me to either keep the game open for an hour and do nothing but sit and stare at this blank screen, or close it and do something else…maybe play a game that doesn’t have me waste time in order to progress the story?
So what I have here is a game that would actually work really well on mobile. It’s a quick pick up and play for 2-3 minutes, and then close it for an hour while you do something else. If I am sitting down at my PC to play a game, I actually want to play it. Not wait for your stupid mechanic that has me waiting around in order to progress. It’s actually worse than those mobile game mechanics which asks you to purchase in game items in order to speed up the game, because that option isn’t even available here!
The game does actually progress you time when you close it, meaning what felt like an obvious scam to try push up your game time to avoid refunds actually didn’t come across as threatening as once seemed. So when I reached my first ‘wait’ I simply closed the game for an hour and booted it back up. However I was greeted with a really annoying message from Taylor “It’s further away than I thought….I’m not even halfway there yet” GREAT, so I close the game down again and wait two hours before I launch it. (Was too busy playing a proper game). I was then offered a decision to make for Taylor, and this resulted in another wait, albeit this time only a 5 minute one, but still, the mechanic was really starting to grow thin now.
This is probably one of the worst mechanics I have seen in a PC game, and it definitely needs to head back to the mobile platform, where I can actually see this mechanic working alright. Play the game for a few minutes, then close it for an hour while I do something else, then open it again when I am sat on the toilet and progress a little more. It would work really well there. It will come as no surprise that it has pretty decent reviews on the mobile platform stores.
For the Aficionado
If you are like me, and you value your time more than money, then you will fair much better off finding a playthrough on YouTube just to experience the story. It’s the horrible gating mechanic which holds Lifeline from being an enjoyable adventure game which sci-fi fans would adore. Sadly this mobile port is one of the worst game’s I have played this year.