As I’ve been dedicating more of my time to university studies, I’ve had less time to play my beloved PS4. This is always an annoying time; you want to sink hours of your life playing a big open world game or play your favourite multiplayer game over and over, but you simply can’t.
In order to get my video game fix, I’ve started dipping into some mobile games. They’re perfect for my current predicament as I can play them wherever I am, in-between lectures and even on public transportation. While playing these games I was surprised to discover that some of them are actually really fantastic, and so I’d like to talk about a particular title which completely absorbed my attention until I finished it.
In A Normal Lost Phone, you find an unlocked smartphone and, naturally, you start looking through it. You are given full access to the phone, allowing you to read the owner’s personal text messages and e-mails, look through their photos and even listen to their music. As you snoop through the phone, you quickly discover that the phone owner, Sam, has a secret that has alienated him from a group of friends, and by looking through the rest of his phone you can find what this secret is.
The game is obviously highly narratively-focused, with most of the story being presented through text. However, there are also some puzzle mechanics used to reveal more of the plot, such as finding Sam’s password to a dating app. You also receive the story in a broken-up order, much like in Her Story, so some thought is required to sort the narrative chronologically. This game does involve a lot of reading, so if you prefer more gameplay-heavy games, maybe take a pass on A Normal Lost Phone; otherwise, I think you’ll enjoy the experience and finding out about Sam’s life.
Indeed, this game is very voyeuristic but that is part of the pleasure of playing it. In fact, the initial feelings of taboo that occur are later replaced by genuine investment in the character as you explore his recent past. You find that he is a well-rounded, likeable person but that he is also allowed to be flawed; he has aspirations and at the same time is unsure what he wants to do in his future. Sam is written with great care and attention, and this shows, particularly in the later stages of the game. I was very impressed with the game’s writing; it painted convincing depictions of characters and expressed a real intelligence on the topics that were raised throughout the game.
A Normal Lost Phone was developed by Accidental Queens and has been released on iOS, Android and Steam. However, I think the best way to play this game is on your phone, as it makes the experience a lot more immersive: you can imagine your phone as Sam’s instead, getting the game as close as possible to really looking through another person’s phone. I look forward to seeing what else Accidental Queens makes in the future and I’m confident it will be just as enjoyable and interesting as this one.