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Texting with an astronaut. That’s not something you can say you did every day. Lifeline is a text adventure game like no other, and actually is an evolution thanks to — well — cell phones. You receive an incoming message from a stranded astronaut named Taylor on an unknown moon. Your job is to give him the advice to survive and find a way off the moon. It sounds boring and stupid, but it isn’t. Lifeline is one of the most unique mobiles I have ever played.
The best part about Lifeline is that you actually have to wait for Taylor to reply in real time. If Taylor is going down to bed you may have to wait 4-5 hours, if he’s eating, maybe 30 minutes. This sounds boring, but it’s actually quite engaging and thrilling; it leaves you wanting more. Of course, there’s a fast mode, but what’s the fun in that? My journey with Taylor was quite memorable and the pace picked up towards the end of the story which took me about two days to actually get to. Several times I wound up giving poor Taylor some bad advice and our plucky sarcastic astronaut died a few times. During my adventure, Taylor ran across two spaceships. The way Taylor describes everything paints a perfect picture in our head of what the moon could look like. It’s a sci-fi horror mystery with no pictures or spoken dialog which is what makes it that much more thrilling.
Several times Taylor would stop midway through sentences and cut off and I wanted to know what happened. I would get a lot of “OH MY GOD” or “YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED”. You get a choice of two short responses and while some may be similar a few will decide Taylor’s fate. I was able to get Taylor to calm down after seeing strange creatures, we got some glow rods, a generator, and then a long and rough journey to a large crater with a tower in the middle that kept disappearing. Without spoiling anything, after you reach the tower this is where the climax begins and the wait times are non-existent. I really felt Taylor’s psyche start to deteriorate and felt his suffering. I actually felt like I was texting a stranded astronaut, and that’s the beauty of this game.
The best part about Lifeline is that you can go back to any choice and rewind the story to that point or to the beginning of the day. This allows for zero frustration and complete fluidity through the story; something that other text adventures need to take note of. I just wish the story was longer and we could have explored nearly the entire moon. I wouldn’t mind a game like this lasting days or even weeks with dozens of hours of gameplay; it’s just so satisfying and engaging. With that said, Lifeline is a phenomenal idea and hopefully, more people will pick up on it. The writing is believable and the fact that you’re just staring at a gray screen with scrolling text and some haunting music makes it that much better and engaging. The game forces you to use your imagination; uses the unknown and lack of sensory input to make you want more and to really care about Taylor. On top of this, you can tell everyone you have texted an astronaut.