Cell to cell adhesion is a basic property of multi cellular organisms.
If you're going to talk about what life "is", you have to find the similarities between single-celled organisms and multi-celled organisms. You can't choose a property of multi-celled organisms as a basic property of life.
Even single cell organisms can adhere to its surroundings.
They can but they don't have to. They can also float free. Adhesion is not a "fundamental property of life".
But if this took millions of years to happen, what about all these years? Did organisms had a limited visual capacity or limited interpretation of visual stimuli?
Yes. Even today there is a whole range of visual capacity from barely able to perceive light to better than human vision. That's one of the reasons we know that evolution did happen. All of the intermediate steps are there.