Video games

Lifeline: The Terrible Voice Controlled Horror Game… That is Kind of Perfect

A main character who LITERALLY wont listen!

It is the goal of THE BRIEF HISTORY OF GAMING to chronicle every video game ever made… 

For this portion of the Brief History Of Gaming, we are going to talk about Lifeline for the PlayStation 2

A terrible game that should now be considered perfect.

Lifeline (or as it was called in Japan, Operators Side) was unique survival horror game. Trapped on a space station hotel during a attack by mysterious aliens, your character gets trapped in a control room. Unable to escape on his own, he finds a hotel worker named Rio in the stations detention cells. Using a series of cameras and the limited control over the certain parts of the station that your control room gives you, you free Rio.

Why is the Japanese title and cover so much better? Oh well i know why but we will save that for another time.

Oh and the entire game is controlled via voice commands you give to Rio. 

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This was a big point of the game as it was its entire gimmick. Using the PS2 USB headset, you would give Rio 500 verbal commands to guide her through the station to your control room. You could also engage in small chat (poorly) and even had verbal easter eggs (the only one I knew during my original play-through was asking her to bark like a dog. Learned about it through X-Play).

Adam Sessler screaming at a video game character who wont listen, is what every game journalist should aspire to be…

At the time most, US reviewers had mixed opinions on the game. Rio was not able to properly understand a lot of the commands unless enunciated precisely. a issue a lot of people believe to be unique to the western copies of the game as they had to translate it from its original Japanese. I will attest to this as some one who owned it…

Rio wouldn’t listen.

Basic commands were lost on her. Solving the simplest of fetch quest and puzzles took far too long. Combat was a long series of shouting into my mic hoping that she would shoot the monster and not tell me she was confused or do something entirely else. At the time, forums I frequented claimed that this was a issue solely with the western copies of the game. This might be true as the Japanese version was far more well received, even ending up as one of the best selling PS2 games during the time of its release.

I wonder if that has anything to do with Rio herself

The American version was apparently a rough cut and not a good example of the technology… And I love the game for it!

In the current gaming market where artificial difficulty sells and people love challenges, Lifeline is the perfect thing to play. You think dodging in Dark Souls is a fine tuned and “punishing if you miss” process? Ha, try to have Rio not be constantly murdered by weird space slug monsters. The limited resources of modern horror games one of you favorite tropes of the genre? You will love when Rio not only fires her gun at the wrong spot on the alien but also seems to be allergic to bullets. LifeLine is perfect because it kinda barely works sometimes, and that is something I never thought I would support.


If this interests you, and you can get your hands on a PS2 and a PS2 headset, I highly recommend getting the game. It makes for a great party night play. Trust when I say you and your friends will laugh from all the mess ups that is LifeLine.

(Still prefer the Japanese title…)

We will see you the next time we make a entry into the BRIEF HISTORY OF GAMING!

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