Lifeline: Silent Night in Review – Great Story, Minimal Game Play

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Lifeline: Silent Night is the third in a series of “interactive conversations” from 3 Minute Games.  On the plus side, this chapter of the series returns us to the adventures of Taylor the astronaut, because the second installment went off on some weird mystical tangent that was anything but engrossing.  The problem with Lifeline, and with this style of game in general, is that I feel more like I’m taking a psychological exam then playing an adventure game.  I applaud the fact that they take a completely different approach to telling a story, but in the end I find that the mechanism actually removes me from the narrative instead of drawing me into it.  It’s a shame, because the story deserves more.

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I’m not really sure who you are, but for all intents and purposes you can just be you.  You’re communicating with Taylor, whom we last met after he crash landed on a moon.  Now he’s back aboard a ship, which has… well, that’s what you need to play the game to find out.  I will admit that despite not necessarily being the most original space story, the narrative is rather gripping.  I could do with the protagonist being a little less Eddie Murphy, but otherwise the writing is good and the writer does an excellent job of breaking the story just when things are getting interesting, which makes you anxious for Taylor to come back and tell you what’s going on.  On the other hand, the story comes at you in such small chunks that when you do return to Taylor’s world you almost have to re-acclimate yourself to the journey, and for someone like me that looses details quickly that can be tough.

When you do get the opportunity to respond to Taylor you always have to choose between two options.  Sadly, it never feels like there are any repercussions for making the wrong choice, unless I’m just amazingly adept at selecting the winning option, though I know that’s not my style.  There is also no inventory and no puzzles to solve, hence my initial analysis that this is more of an “interactive dialog” than a true adventure game.  Visually there’s not much to it since the game basically simulates streaming text between you and Taylor.  At least the text is easy to read, which is definitely a bonus given that Silent Night is a text based game.  Aside from the title screen the only real graphic is the map of the ship, which really doesn’t aid you in any way unless you’re curious about how the ship is laid out.  Rather than a distinct soundtrack or sound effects everything is sort of melded into ambient background noise, and honestly it works really well for this particular game.

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Lifeline: Silent Night and its predecessors certainly stand out in the realm of adventure games, if that is in fact how you want to label them.  I personally haven’t latched on to the whole “pick one of two answers, then go do something else until the protagonist reports back with some progress” style of game play yet, but if the stories continue to be interesting I’m willing to keep giving it a try.  The game does support the Apple Watch, and part of me wonders if the experience might be vastly different on that device, but alas I don’t have one to give it a try.  The structure of the game takes some getting used to and might not appeal to hard core adventure gamers, but the sci-fi story is intriguing and might be worth encouraging yourself to give it a try.

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App Summary
Title: Lifeline: Silent NightDeveloper: 3 Minute Games, LLC
Reviewed Ver:1.2Min OS Req: iOS 8.0
Price:$0.99App Size:48.04MB
  • Interesting story
  • Simple interface
  • Easy to read
  • Lack of inventory and puzzles seems contrary to adventure game concept
  • Can’t play straight through because of simulated “real time” nature

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