How often do you check your phone each day? The number got too huge? Ok, think about how often you check it each hour. Odds are it’s still many, many times. Lifeline: Whiteout uses that to its advantage, offering you a fairly gripping storyline every time you check your notifications. As was the case with previous games in the series, it’s an interesting use of a notification system that’s normally all about reminding you to do tedious things like go grocery shopping.
In Lifeline: Whiteout, you have to guide a lost adventurer to safety. They’re alone in a frozen wasteland — and the worst part? They’ve got no clue how they got there, or who they are. That’s really kicking someone while they’re down. This is a story of survival which is defined by undertaking various different decisions. Sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t. Fortunately, unlike other choose-your-own-adventure style games, death isn’t quite as easy to stumble into — but it is a factor.
Each line of the story pops up on screen (or through your notifications screen), automatically scrolling through until you reach one of these choices. Making such choices is simple enough to do, although the ramifications ensure that you’ll be worrying about if you made the right call often. There are only two decisions to choose from each time, limiting what can be accomplished — but it does ensure that the writing remains tightly woven.
Occasionally you’ll have to pause for a bit, as the game ‘thinks’ about what’s next. For instance, if you opt to hike a long way in the hope of finding help, it’s going to take time for the journey, which means you as the player will be waiting. That’s both the beauty and the curse of Lifeline: Whiteout. It’s ideal if you have limited time and want to jump in often throughout your day, but if you really want to sink your teeth into what’s unfolding? You might find yourself frustrated at the pacing, all too keen to see what happens next.
Eventually, you’ll probably die. After all, it’s a tough challenge trying to survive in the wintery wilderness. It’s easy to slip up and make a fatal mistake. On the plus side, that’s when a ‘fast mode’ unlocks. That means everything goes, well, faster, including cutting back on waiting times. It’s a mode that you soon end up wishing was made available to you right from the start. Sure, it might technically be going against the point of the game, but it’s really quite useful.
I keep saying game, but this feels like a loose definition of the word. Lifeline: Whiteout is an interactive story, but it’s not hugely interactive. Regardless, the storyline is genuinely appealing. It takes a little time to bed in, but I soon found myself quite concerned for the well being of the amnesiac adventurer.
There’s that sense that maybe the Lifeline format is getting slightly tired by now. Just how many more tales can be told through text and notifications? But it’s still fairly gripping while it lasts, even if you won’t be returning to replay it over and over again. The added benefit of being able to view notifications through your Apple Watch is a nice addition to a usually productivity focused device, too, giving you some light relief amongst all your fitness and to do list tracking.