App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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Games like Lineweight remind me that there is so much untapped potential in the interactive fiction space. This brief experience may not have a whole lot of substance to it, but it delivers its contents in such incredibly stylish and creative ways that make it compelling nonetheless.
Lineweight is a chapter-based piece of interactive fiction where you scroll to view and read chunks of text that form an overarching narrative. The story here focuses on a young person as they experience different emotions over the arc of a relationship. I know this sounds kind of vague, but then again so is Lineweight (more on that later).
The game is divided into five chapters, with each one aiming to capture a specific emotion. To make progress in each chapter, most of what you need to do is scroll and read, though there are some times where you might have to do some alternate form of interaction, like dragging a dot in a circle or activating a flipper. These interactions aren't particularly difficult or puzzling, but rather operate to heighten the experience of what you’re reading through.
The highlight of playing Lineweight is definitely its presentation. You aren't simply reading through walls of plain text. Words glow, animate, and are overlaid on video clips in ways that look super sharp and are highly evocative. Even if you aren't reading any of the text, Lineweight can tell you its story through its graphic design and art direction.
Lineweight also makes great use of your phone, taking full advantage of telling its story on a screen that can be rotated freely or simulate text and phone conversations. All of these touches are truly what makes this experience special, because without them all you'd have left is some pretty humdrum writing.
Lineweight offers its first chapter for free so you can get a taste of what it is like before asking for $ 2.99 to for the full experience. Each chapter is about the same length, so if you take your play time in the free chapter and tack on four more, that's what you're looking at in terms of overall game length. It's not particularly long, but that's ok since I'm not sure Lineweight's stylish presentation could support anything much longer.
My only disappointment with Lineweight is its actual story. It's not so vague to the point that you don't understand what's going on, but it feels less like a cohesive narrative and more like some loosely connected vignettes that come together suddenly at the very end. It still works as a tone piece, but I'd expect anyone looking for a compelling plot would be disappointed with Lineweight.
The bottom line
Lineweight is truly a case of style over substance, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Considering its brief play time and lack of reptition or obstacles, its blistering hot style is able to take center stage without any sort of distraction. I do wish the story contained in this slick package could be articulated a little more, but otherwise I had a fantastic time taking in Lineweight as a delightful sensory experience.