Out of nowhere you get a message from someone: help. They’ve crashed on a moon and you’re the only one they can talk to. You can help them in this little interactive novel, available on iOS, Android, and even the Apple Watch.
That’s the basic premise for a game appearing on both major mobile platforms right now, as “Lifeline” sticks you on the other end of a communications system guiding a science student as he tries to survive a crash on another planet.
You can think of yourself as yourself in this one, a random person just receiving a message out of the ether, because that’s kind of what happens in this game. You log in and all of a sudden you’re responsible for helping someone survive. They’ll communicate with you and tell you what they’re thinking, what they’re saying, and every so often you’ll be given options to help them decide what they should do.
Should they investigate the ship? Should they save the captain?
After you select one, you’ll see more of the story unravel, but it will only happen in small amounts, trickling out of the game almost as if you were receiving the messages to your real device, and since it exists on both Android, iOS, and even Apple’s new Watch, this can make it seem all too real.
So does the time that passes in real life, which is part of that story trickling out. You won’t see the entire story in ten minutes, with more like a few minutes of game play coming to a stop when your main character Taylor goes off to do something, hopefully to try and save his or her life.
Lifeline even tries to let you make a decision that feels like it should affect you more than most other games, asking you to research bits and bobs every so often for the point of the story.
Should Taylor spend a night out in the cold or brave it with a radioactive energy reactor pushing out 150 RADS? Will they survive?
The game asks you to do the research since you’re the one with the internet connection, and you can simply Google it on your own time, informing the character of your decision and helping them progress, which helps to forge a connection with this character you can neither see nor hear, only read the thoughts and speech patterns of.
Eventually, you might even kill Taylor, but don’t worry, you don’t have to start from the beginning, being able to rewind back in time and start from an earlier point, which means you won’t have to wait those chunks of time all over again.
In fact, once you’ve killed the character, you can even play through with fast mode, which allows you to speed through without waiting those minutes and hours that Lifeline allows for.
Gamers keen on seeing the full story quickly will love this mode, as it offers up an experience more like the speedy progression that is reading through a “choose your own adventure” book.
But if you feel you’re more connected with the character, the gradual “message received” style of Lifeline will more suit, as it can help it to feel more real. For instance, you can be just sitting on a bus, doing nothing, and a message will pop up from Lifeline ready for you to help Taylor a little more.
It might not even be an interactive section, and you might just be reading up on Taylor’s progress, but it allows you to immerse yourself in someone else’s life for just a moment, without getting caught in another game and spending too much time in a faux world.
This short and sweet gameplay is punchy and easy to connect to, and aside for providing a truly interactive method of gaming experience, also means you’re not spending bucket loads of time wasting away on a video game title that tries to consume your life, as so many seem to.
Rather, it is playing more to your life, and making it possible for you to adapt to it rather than the other way around.
We need to note that there is very little to the game, and you’ll have to use your own imagination for this one.
You get told the character’s name and what they did, but there is no imagery, with only text communicated to you via this special communication gadget. You won’t see the planet, their astronaut suit, or anything happening to the stranded Taylor. You don’t even know if it’s a girl or a guy.
You only know the name, and that they are desperate and talking to you, and while they could probably do this without talking to you, you are there because they’ve reached out for someone.
Now you just have to decide if you’ll help them, or switch off and go back to work.
Lifeline is available on Google Android, Apple iPhone, and Apple Watch for $3.79.