In a world seemingly dominated by bad news, we all need a little escapism now and then. Yes, the video game space in general is good at immersing us in their digital worlds, but trying to save the world, again, can be a taxing business. It's refreshing, then, to see a game take a different tack, offering a way to put your real-world blinkers on in a manner that's deliberately crafted to calm you to your very soul. And that's exactly why we all need Lifelike in our lives right now. Go on, turn away from Twitter for 10 minutes.
Don't be fooled by its title either. Thankfully, Lifelike is anything but a reflection of our present reality, instead presenting a journey of discovering, gathering and learning about different particle groups, with the ultimate aim of reaching a level goal. Like thatgamecompany's Flower, though, playing Lifelike is less about the destination than the Journey. Created by developer Kunabi Brother, it's described as a particle symphony, and as silly as that might sound, it's probably the perfect way to explain it.
Inspired by the meditation concept of 'undivided attention', or 'focused attention', Lifelike encourages you to get lost in the gameplay through an immersive spectacle of sight and sound. A low-fi chill beats soundtrack ebbs into your ears – and I'd recommend playing with headphones for the purest experience – reactively morphing and evolving as you move through the particle types.
You play as a ball of light that can connect and collect different particles. Some look like feathers or leaves, others like fish, but most are not unlike that of your own playable glowbug. Gathering up each of these different species will cause your screen to explode with colour. Part of the process, though, is finding out how the different particles interact.
Some don't like to be touched, for example, and will follow you but never directly interact, instead choosing to swarm around your dot like a swarm of bees. Others will happily mingle together with you, and other nearby particles, creating a blanket of colour that pulsates across the screen like a shoal of fish in the sunlight. Often you'll find them wanting to take flight, leading you from point to point instead of following behind, creating rivers of bioluminescent energy that you can ride to discover more about this strange yet beautiful landscape.
Puzzle elements slowly seep their way in, too. In one level, particles are trapped inside a gelatinous blob, and you must force your own orb through its centre with enough force to release the captives. It's all simple enough to feel satisfying without taxing your brain in the way other mobile games might, which is exactly what Kunabi Brother is aiming for.
Lifelike is about absorption and immersion in its purest form. There's no real story here, just the immensity of synesthesia: beautiful calm beats that combine with the movement and tinctures of the particles. It's a sight to behold, and the kind of calm we should all be clutching to our chests to protect right now. It'll be joining the Apple Arcade roster very soon, so look out for it on a mobile or tablet device near you in the coming weeks.
Until you can play Lifelike for yourself, why not check out our pick of the best Apple Arcade games right now?