Lifestream is an Adventure game creation of Christopher M. Brendel of Unimatrix Productions. The game was released in 2004 and was the first commercially available Adventure game made by Christopher Brendel. Since then Christopher has gone on to make the highly acclaimed Adventures 'Shady Brook' and 'The Filmmaker'.
The basic premise of the game is as follows – John Holton's father has disappeared some three weeks past. John sets out to try to discover the cause of his dad's mysterious disappearance. Being the son of a priest, something that he knows would be severely frowned upon and which would damage his father's reputation should it be publicly known, John chooses to take on the investigation himself, privately, rather than risk harming his father's standing within the community and the church. What ensues is a mystery which reveals far more sinister goings on than John could ever have envisaged in his search for his dad.
In the course of the game the player takes on the role of both John and his father, Randolph. Information included with game stipulates that 'Lifestream' is suitable for players aged 13 years and above, mainly due to the fact that it includes one or two violent scenes, but more especially an impressively eerie atmosphere.
Is 'Lifestream' any good? Well, here's a little information encompassing my ‘take’ on the game.
Story – To say the story is intriguing would not be an overstatement. If, like me, you enjoy playing Adventure games where the only thing obvious is that the developer of said game has put in a tremendous amount of thought and effort to come up with a gripping and quite original plot premise then this Adventure could well leave you very satisfied indeed.
Graphics – ‘Lifestream’ was made using Adventure Maker software and, on the plus side, whereas the graphics are certainly not top notch by today’s standards, they’re certainly good enough to make the enthusiastic player feel convinced by the game environments presented. Transitions between scenes were a little hazy, but that can certainly be overlooked when all things are considered. After all, amazingly jaw-dropping graphics are not everything; as most devout point and click veterans of Sierra’s and LucaArts’ halcyon days will tell you. Character body movements, expressions and gestures are all quite impressive considering this was Mr Brendel’s first venture into game design. One character’s smile, however, that of a young lady, did at one point in the game give me a bit of a start. I’d not have wanted to meet her in a dark alley, I can tell you. The only real down point is that many of the scenes are very dark indeed and, even with monitor brightness turned up to maximum, some scenes and inventory objects (one in particular), are a little unclear. This did not, however, affect my overall enjoyment of the game.
Interface – With few, if any as I recall, exceptions, ‘Lifestream’ is a simple and straightforward mouse-controlled Adventure with on-screen arrows and object-interaction indicator icons pointing the player toward entrances, exits, lefts, rights, ups, downs, etc.. Pixel hunting is none too arduous.
Sound and Music – Ambient sounds add to the eerie atmosphere evoked by the game and, coupled with the extremely pleasant, though frequently sombre (and spooky), soundtrack, which was composed, though not I believe specifically for the game, by Justin R. Durban of Edgen Animations, fit very well with the tension filled nature of the game narrative.
Voice Acting – One of the most impressive aspects of this game. Dialogue is clear, well voiced and thoroughly convincing throughout.
Puzzles – The puzzles of ‘Lifestream’ are varied, quite original in many instances, and, for the most part, fit quite well within the game narrative. None are too taxing and, with the exception of one relatively small maze sequence, are of easy-to-moderate difficulty for the majority of experienced Adventure game aficionados.
*System used – I played ‘Lifestream’ on my trusty old ‘Windows 98SE’ PC, but I’m told the game will run well on ‘Windows XP’ as well. I failed to get it to run on ‘Windows 7’. I think it best to assume it will not run in a ‘Vista’ nor a ‘Windows 7’ environment. I believe Chris’s Unimatrix website may well indeed say that is the case.
One point worth noting – Christopher Brendel has been very approachable and extremely helpful regarding all questions I’ve had the occasion to ask about his game/s.
Final Summing Up – ‘Lifestream’ is a very enjoyable, plot-driven Adventure and one that, if you’re prepared to forsake sun-bursting graphics and, instead, partake in a cracking good story with a thrilling climax, will give you ten or so hours of thoroughly engrossing entertainment. Most certainly a ‘thumbs-up’ as far as this intrepid Adventurer is concerned.
Story – A
Graphics – B-
Interface – B+
Sound and Music – B+
Voice Acting – A-
Puzzles – B+
Difficulty – Easy/Moderate
Overall Grade – B+
An Adventurer's strength flows from the Point'n'Click Force.But beware The Dark Side my friend.Anger,rage,aggression.The dark side of the gaming Force are they.Easily they flow,quick to join you in a fight.If once you start down the dark path of RPGs, Action-Adventures or . . eek! . . Casual Games (brrr!),forever will it dominate your destiny.Consume you it will,as it did Ethel,of whom we dare not speak for fear of instant expulsion from our true faith of Point'n'Click.