Texts from space: a Lifeline review

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Hello?

                    Is this thing working?

                                            Can anyone read me?

With these simple lines of text, Lifeline establishes a unique storytelling method for a mobile game. Taylor is a student who won a lottery for the chance to conduct simple science experiments in space. It was the chance of a lifetime, an exciting opportunity.

And then everything went wrong.

Taylor’s spaceship, the Varia, crashed into a small moon. Seconds before the crash, one of the crew managed to put Taylor in an escape pod, and Taylor survived. Using the escape pod’s small transmitter, Taylor calls for help. Because of the transmitter ‘ s short range, only you can hear his transmission.

You are Taylor’s Lifeline.

Taylor puts on a brave front, but he is alone on a strange world, and he hasn’t been trained to handle this extreme situation he is thrust into.

He chatters nervously to you about the situations he finds himself in, often joking to lighten the mood. But you can tell he is scared. Every time he’s faced with a choice, he asks you what to do.

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After you make Taylor’s decision for him, he carries it out, and then goes silent for a while. This is where the game is unique. When Taylor is busy, you just close the app, and go about your day. Some time later, maybe 20 minutes, maybe 6 hours later if Taylor was sleeping, you’ll get a notification from the game, like a text message. The game will wait for you to open the notification, so you don’t have to worry about missing an important decision while sleeping or otherwise being busy.
These unpredictable gaps between chapters in the story really helps to make Taylor feel like a real person out there, just like a friend texting you out of the blue.

A friend who happens to be lost in space.

This welcome interruption to the day is the best part of this game. Bored in your cubicle at 2:30? Taylor has a question about this generator he found. Stuck in a meeting at 4:30? Taylor has a question about radiation. I had a great experience with this game last weekend. I was in the middle of a stressful situation, when this message popped up on my smartwatch.

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That instantly made me smile, and made my 99 cent app purchase worth it right there. I recommend this game to almost anyone. I’ve heard some express concern with the fact that it’s a text based game with no graphics, but that is missing the point of this game.

This game ended up being a Lifeline to me…jostling me out of the stressful, boring and mundane parts of my day.

Lifeline is available on Google Play and the iOS appstore. As always, you can hear me talk about this and other games on the Plug and Play podcast.

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