The rise of mobile gaming has led to a lot of crap. Free to play games, which in reality require you to pay several hundred pounds to actually achieve anything, and thousands of clones of more successful games. However, it’s also led to some very interesting developments in text adventure games and other experiences of that ilk. One example of that is Lifeline, a text adventure that sees you communicating with an astronaut who has been stranded on a moon.
Your new astronaut friend Taylor, whose sex is never established, has somehow connected to you via their communications device and in their panic at trying to survive this hostile situation, puts her life into your hands. She asks for your advice on any number of issues and your decisions literally mean life or death for her. What makes the game so interesting, is that it all takes place in real-time. When Taylor starts walking towards something and says that it looks like it will take around an hour, that is exactly how long it will take. They will go quiet for an hour and send you another message when they arrive.
This incredibly simple gameplay mechanic, means that you essentially establish a texting relationship with this person. You get attached to Taylor and respond to them in much the same way you might a friend. Little facts like their lack of an obvious sex, allow you to create an image of them in your head. It never even occurred to me that Taylor might be male, but for others that might be completely different. You spend roughly three days, although it might possibly be less if you give her bad advice, talking to Taylor and by the end of it you are attached to that person.
Which is why at the end when it gave me the choice to go back and make different decisions to see what happened, I didn’t want to do it. In my head Taylor had had their adventure, going back and doing it again would lessen that. It would take that realism away from it and the realism is what made me connect to this game in the way I did. By the end of this game Taylor feels like a real person and that is probably the biggest compliment you can pay to the writing on this game.
3 Minute Games are a tiny studio who have come up with an incredibly simple idea with Lifeline. However, it’s been done with such a wonderfully astute mind that it feels so much bigger. It takes you into the world of this game and even though you never see the moon that Taylor has landed on or even Taylor themselves, by the end of your experience they all exist in your head and that’s because of the writing that has gone on here. Considering it will set you back all of a pound fifty on the Android store this game is worth every minute that you will put into it and is a story that will stay in your head long after the event.