[incoming communication] [establishing connection] [receiving a message] Hello? Is this thing working? Can anyone read me?
That’s how one of the best interactive mobile games starts. The Lifeline is a brilliant game that brings interactivity to a whole new level, by persuading user he is having a real-time conversation with an astronaut lost in the outer space. The game is simple and minimalistic, but in amazing way. It looks like a two-way communicator between you and some guy (or girl1) named Taylor, whose spaceship crashed on an unknown desert moon somewhere in Tau Ceti constellation. Taylor doesn’t know if there are other survivors or how to send an SOS signal, the only thing she has left is a text-based communication with you. Despite the fact she’s billions of miles away from you, you’ll become her guide to this desolated moon, she’ll trust you with the most important survival decisions and you’ll be able to give her advice on choosing the best way to stay alive until she gets rescued. You’ll feel like you’re almost there with her, and you’ll think you’re almost chatting with the real person out there. Taylor will contact you in various times during the day, and she’ll sleep and rest like everyone, so your communication will depend on both your and her daily routine.
The whole idea behind the Lifeline is very simple, but the game has been designed with utter perfection. When I played it for the first time I was surprised how incredibly immersive the Lifeline was. Taylor was contacting me in specific hours during the day, and her daily rhythm was coherent with mine. It felt like there was another person on the far end of the communicator, and that she had her own habits and adventures during the day. She could disagree with me when she had thought my idea for the next step was stupid, she could tell jokes when she was in good mood, she could cry into her (metaphorical) pillow the she discovered her chances for the rescue diminished, etc. What’s so incredible about the Lifeline, is that the whole game plays with the speed of a real life. You won’t be able to finish it within hours, you’ll need a few days to reach the end of it, and during that time you’ll get a couple of messages a day, sometimes separated by hours and hours of radio silence, and you’ll never know if the advice you gave Taylor last time will eventually lead to her survival or her death. The concept itself is perfect and its implementation is perfect. Taylor is funny, optimistic and can make you laugh almost anytime. Her lines were written by brilliant Dave Justus, the writer of Fables: the wolf among us, and he did an extraordinary job. You just cannot dislike Taylor and her specific sense of humour. And if (and when) things get ugly, you’ll be genuinely worrying about her wellbeing.
There is no fancy graphics or FX in the Lifeline, it’s a text-based game and the text is what makes it so immersive. It will work on any mobile device with Android or iOS (and it will work on your Apple Watch, too!), and it’s smaller than 30 megabytes. It doesn’t require an internet connection to play and you won’t find any ads in the game. You should give it a try, it’s fabulous! It gave me much more fun than any other iOS game on my phone.
- It’s not exactly clear whether Taylor is a man or woman, but I have always imagined her as a woman. ↩︎