Platforms: Windows, iOS, Android
Now this is more like it. Lifestream: A Haunting Text Adventure manages to combine the visual novel with a pared-down point-n-click adventure game, stripping away the annoying pixel hunting, but keeping a handful of puzzles and useable inventory items. However, it’s premier focus is on the writing and the story, pulling you along on an 8 hour long wild ride.
The player begins the game in the role of John Holton, son of Father Randolph Holton, a priest who has recently gone missing. As you progress through the story, you are able to play through the past as Randolph as well. It should go without saying that you should be prepared for a lot of reading; everything in the story, and the clues you will need to find, are all in the text.
There is no pixel-hunting, rather you’re given a context-sensitive multiple-choice menu whenever there is something you can interact with . Movement is done with the compass, and any direction you can move in is highlighted in red. In order to have an item available for use, you must select it in your backpack, and then it will appear below the compass. You also have access to a map (although it is not of the fast-travel variety) and your journal, which records documents of interest along the way.
As someone who has little experience with visual novels, I struggled somewhat with figuring out how everything worked, and was perhaps more frustrated than I should have been with locked objects and doors. The developers have provided a full walkthrough – personally, I don’t like to use a walkthrough, preferring to mostly figure things out myself, but I also believe that they are invaluable for keeping me interested in a game when the adventure game logic just fails me, which it inevitably does in most games. You also have the choice whether to turn objectives on or off – it’s not quite a full fledged hint system, but it can help when you’re just not sure what the next step is.
I love that Lifestream: A Haunting Text adventure is available for mobile devices – it seems like it would be particularly well suited for tablet play – but that the developers decided to make it available for PC as well at the same price point. Overall, I was charmed by the game, and purchased at full price without regret. I’d recommend this title for anyone interested in mysteries, visual novels, or adventure games – it really does feel very well put together for a low price point title.