3/31 – Lifeline

Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Today’s game is the cult PS2 hit, Lifeline. Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment and published by Sony and Konami in 2003.

Lifeline follows an unnamed player character referred to as The Operator who must guide a cocktail waitress named Rio through a monster infested space station. The player does this by using a real-life microphone plugged into the Playstation 2 and issuing voice commands to Rio in order to guide her on her journey. The player never receives direct control over characters in the game and must complete the entire adventure through voice commands.

While voice commands such as Turn right, Move forward and Stop are utilized, the player must also guide Rio through combat scenarios and dialogue sequences as well. The game is purported to recognize over 500 commands. In combat, Rio will respond to being told which monster to attack as well as where to attack the monster’s body, such as attacking the legs or the torso. Throughout the game, Rio will also occasionally stop to talk to The Operator which allows the player to speak to Rio and answer questions.

Lifeline was released in Japan and North America but did not receive a European release. In Japan, the game was bundled with a USB headset but in North America, it was not. Regardless of the region, however, the game claims to work with any USB microphone or headset. Many have reported playing the game with Rock Band microphones or Logitech headsets.

The game was released to mixed reviews with many claiming that the voice recognition was the game’s biggest flaw. Many critics reported having problems getting Rio to recognize what they were saying and even when she did understand, she often took a significant amount of time to respond, resulting in frustrating deaths. Game Informer would later list it as one of the worst horror games of all time.

Despite the cold critical review, Lifeline sold very well, even receiving a re-release in Japan under their Greatest Hits collection. The game has maintained a solid fanbase and is considered by many to be a cult classic on the Playstation 2. While many acknowledge the game’s shortcomings, it is also considered to be extremely ambitious and a source of untapped potential in the modern gaming world.

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