A few weeks ago, I reviewed SIM – Sara is Missing, where you find a lost phone and look for the owner. As the game happens in the phone’s UI, you’re essentially using the missing phone, and it takes a different augmented reality approach to immerse you in the game.
Turns out that this approach has been adopted by at least one more game, and like SIM, you find a lost phone and you need to figure out the whereabouts of the owner by going through a person’s digital life. But that’s where the similarities end.
A Normal Lost Phone doesn’t try to copy an existing phone UI. Everything is in pastel colors, making everything feel inviting, essentially urging you to go and dig into this stranger’s phone and figure out the owner’s secrets. It’s not a horror game; this time, you need to figure out where Sam, former owner of the phone you now hold, has disappeared to.
The phone is new – a gift from his family on his 18th birthday. A cursory scroll through his text messages show the usual mix of teenage angst and aloofness, preferring to be in the company of people who share the same interests. There’s the obligatory indie music, photos with friends, and of course, a dating app.
A Normal Lost Phone has wonderfully-written dialogue. Everything feels so real, and as I scrolled through messages, emails, and photos I felt a twinge of guilt, like I crossed a line and invaded a real person’s privacy. And it gets even worse when you realize that you have to further said privacy invasion when you have to unlock the dating app and uncover Sam’s deepest secrets, secrets that even he doesn’t share with his family.
This isn’t a horror game – it’s very very far from it – but the experience of having to undo layer upon layer of secrets brought on a very real discomfort and I would say A Normal Lost Phone is very effective in bringing its final twist in the ending.