Fuel Games, the creators of the awesome Vans SK8, have released something completely different called Lifeboat. Lifeboat takes place, well, on a sinking boat filled with passengers that need to be saved. To save the passengers, tilt your device left, right, up, or down and try to guide the passengers into the lifeboats. Of course, your passengers can fall in the water if you’re not careful, and they can be attacked by various monsters like a shark or a crocodile.
With so many casual games in the App Store, it’s hard to chose which ones to buy. All of them are either horrendously balanced to be an absolute failure, or balanced just right to provide a wonderful experience. Some just have downright bad controls or just look very bad. Lifeboat seems to fall in between, and I found it to be not perfect, but not horrendous.
Artwork: I’m not going to lie, artwork in this game is fantastic. I absolutely love the poster with the crying people, and the menus are all well designed. In-game artwork is also wonderfully rendered, and the artists over at Fuel Games have got some serious talent. It isn’t another ugly-looking casual game, this is a polished effort that’s not lacking in design at all.
Campaign: The game seems to take a different turn on casual games and actually adds a campaign mode instead of just one game mode. As you pass each level, the ships can change shape and color, and the game does start to get more difficult. It isn’t like other casual games where the map and/or objects never change.
Stats: The game provides various different stats that show you how many passengers you’ve saved, etc. I thought the stats were really nice to see, and I found the stats to be very well presented. It isn’t just another local highscore leaderboard, it’s a full on list of the highest passengers you’ve saved, number of total saved, etc. I really like the fact that they added all the different stats.
Controls: I cannot stress this enough about any game. Controls must be do-able to make the game a good experience. If the game looks great, has a great idea, but doesn’t have good controls, the game will start to form some negative impressions. Although Lifeboat does feature auto-calibration, the tilting controls just don’t work for me. I found the passengers not even moving when I tilt to the left, and the calibration just seemed non-existent. It was at times frustrating to see passengers just stay in their spots when the boat is clearly tilting the opposite direction.
No Online Highscores: I know it’s hard to have online highscores for a campaign mode, but it would have been nice to have a separate mode (like quick play) where the game would submit your highest number of passengers saved to the online leaderboards. In a casual game, online leaderboards must be present to keep interest in the average gamer. This is another major factor in casual games, and without it, it’s going to be hard for people to stay hooked.
Lifeboat is an okay casual game at best with some control issues and no online highscores. Of course, if you get used to the controls, the game will be enjoyable and actually fun. But for now, I do hope Fuel Games updates this game to improve the controls and maybe even add some online highscores. For $0.99, I wasn’t really expecting much, but Fuel Games has a good idea for a game, they just need to execute a little better.
Lifeboat was developed by Fuel Games, and I played through version 1.0 on my 1st generation iPhone. The price is $0.99. Version 1.1 has been submitted which seems to add Facebook and Twitter connectivity along with improved controls.