That’s the message I woke up to on what was my communicator link with a marooned space cadet named Taylor this morning. His ship had crash landed, and he had reached out to me for help. And I killed him. He died because I gave him the wrong advice on how to survive the night on the desolate planet he had crashed on. I’m still staring at my Apple Watch in shock because of what this game has made me feel.
This is Lifeline.
On the weekend I was playing around with the Apple Watch I’ve been lent to review. It’s pretty nifty for getting stuff done and keeping me off my iPhone for longer, but surely there are some games for this thing, I thought.
After a bit of a scroll through the Watch App on my iPhone, I found a fun little game called Lifeline by Three Minute Games. The blurb took me by surprise, mostly because it sounded fun:
Lifeline is a playable, branching story of survival against all odds. Using your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, you will help Taylor make life or death decisions, and face the consequences together.
After parting with my $3.79 for the app, I got going.
“Is anyone there?”
It was Taylor: the space cadet who had crash-landed on a strange planet calling for help.
My help. It was instantly personal.
He trusted me immediately, and I wanted to help him. Whether I could help him survive or even help him escape the cold planet he had crashed on remained to be seen, but I felt an immediate attachment to a fictional character pinging me from a strange galaxy to my wearable.
The choose-your-own-adventure RPG puts you in charge of Taylor’s actions and ultimately, his survival. He asks if he should sleep or search for food. He asks if he should check on the crew or find an offworld distress beacon to get him rescued. He jokes with you, and tries to keep his sense of humour
His first question took me a bit by surprise. Ultimately, he wanted to let me know that he was heading over to the crashed wreckage of his ship to see if anything could be salvaged. Once I agreed that it was a good course of action, that was it. He dropped out of contact as he trekked towards the plumes of smoke he assumed were coming from the crash site. The whole game happens in real time.
*ping* went my Apple Watch as a communication from Taylor came in a few hours later. He had arrived, and wanted to know what to do next. He was taking orders from me now, and I was charged with his safety. I broke his trust, and now he’s dead. This game will test your decision making skills.
I think what roped me in about Lifeline was the fact that I’d never had that experience on a wearable before. I’ve reviewed plenty, but I’ve never used it to play an engrossing RPG before, and that tickles me. It’s like having a Tamagotchi that makes you feel when you kill it.
Taylor’s fictional body is lying in the broken hull of the crashed ship Varia now. He’ll never be found, and we’ll never speak again because I let him down. The next time someone reaches out to me from that distant planet, I’ll think twice about their safety.