Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5, Apple Watch
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
The launch of the first Lifeline… coincided with the release of the Apple Watch. There were a couple of hangups but it was a decent enough take on what I’m starting to refer to as the “timed adventure game genre.” Now we’ve got a sequel with Lifeline 2. It’s ditched the sci-fi in favor of a more modern fantasy setting, and it feels like it might be a bit longer in terms of the amount of story, but some of the hangups are still there.
For the unfamiliar, Lifeline 2 (and games like it) is a sort of choose-your-own adventure with a real time twist where the protagonist will go silent for minutes to hours at a time while they’re performing various tasks. In this instance you share a connection with a woman named Arika (pronounced kind of like “Erica) as she sets out to gather magical items to help her on her quest for revenge against whoever (or whatever) murdered her parents. She’ll fill you in on the details of her current situation, then you get to pick from one of two responses that could lead to a different line of dialog or even change the outcome of the story.
As with Taylor before her, Arika will go “offline” for various amounts of time as she goes to sleep, starts hiking, fights time-bending monks, and so on. One of the big differences (and big improvements) this time around is that instead of being bombarded with notifications for every bit of conversation you’ll receive a single message to let you know there’s been a development. Seeing as the original game was almost insufferable with the number of messages it would send out, this is a very welcome change.
The rest of Lifeline 2 isn’t much of an improvement, however. The story is fairly interesting, and some of Arika’s encounters can be legitimately harrowing, but there are a few too many moments that take me out of it. Reading Arika’s description of a location or event often feels a little too specific - like the game can’t decide if she’s awkwardly dictating or if we’re actually seeing things through her eyes. Much like the first game, the sarcasm is also hit-or-miss - and it makes Arika seem almost indistinguishable from Taylor in terms of personality. I’ve also had the text repeat on me a couple of times (and it didn’t involve time loops), so there’s that.
But those are personal story nitpicks that may not be a problem for some players. A less subjective issue is how Lifeline 2 tends to “hiccup” quite often. Sometimes after choosing an option Arika will start responding before your choice appears on the screen. Other times the auto-scrolling text will get stuck and you’ll have to wait it out, open and close the options menu, or restart the app entirely to get it moving again.
Lifeline 2 is a good follow-up to the original, but a couple of presentation and mechanical issues keep it from truly surpassing the first game. At this point I’d say they’re both about neck and neck in terms of worth playing-ness, with your preference of setting being the deciding factor.