Have you ever found a phone out in the open? I have come across only one in my time, while at a beach with some family. My brother-in-law hung onto it. We did not try to go through it, but did not want to leave it in the parking lot where less friendly hands could get a hand on it. As we walked the length of the beach, we waited for the inevitable call once its owner we realized they had left it behind. That call eventually came, and the phone found its rightful owner within 20 minutes. A simple story with not a hint of intrigue. A Normal Lost Phone is nothing of the sort, and is instead a highly interactive experimental game that lets players play the part of someone who finds a lost phone. Complete with a modern smart phone set up, your Nintendo Switch becomes a prop that allows you to learn about the phones owner and their sudden disappearance.
A Normal Lost Phone is a nice break from the norm, turning the Switch into a full-fledged mock cellphone. Apps cover the screen, and playing around with them and seeking info is the name of the game. You quickly learn that this phone belonged to a boy named Sam, who quickly lost it after turning 18. Dig through some texts, peek in some other apps and eventually you will hit a dead end. Some apps are password protected and you need to deduce what those passwords are from context clues. This is where the sleuthing comes into play. Your first hurdle is the easiest: Linking up to WiFi. Rifling through your messages will quickly point you in the right direction, and the digging only gets deeper from there. You learn a lot about Sam the further you look, learning more about the people he surrounds himself with as well as who Sam is and wants to be. From a loving but mentally different family, love life issues, and trying to find acceptance in the world, the game tackles a lot of real world issues in appropriate and revealing ways. I won’t discuss more past that to avoid spoilers, as the revelations are the main selling point of the title, but I will say it is really well put together.
Aesthetically the title works really well too. Instead of going for a hyper realistic cellphone simulation, the visuals are more colorful, reminding you that you are in fact playing a game. I did not mind this though, as the colorful and playful nature of the visuals speak to the game’s character. Same goes for the sounds, as there is a music app that has over 10 full songs, most of which have vocals, to listen to as you play the game. Since the Lost Phone is fairly short (an hour or two at most), these songs do not get repetitive and keep you humming along as you read and snoop your way to a conclusion. You can always turn the music off, but that won’t stop the immersion. Using the Switch’s Joy-Cons, your “phone” will occasionally vibrate with notifications which helps keep you in the zone so to speak, as will the chimes that come with the vibrations. The game can be played in landscape or portrait mode, that ladder of which is the ideal way to feel in sync with the experience.
A Normal Lost Phone is a great way to kill a few hours, and at only $6, it is not a bad deal either. Fans of engaging narratives will find peace knowing their money was well spent on this title. It’s got heart and abrasiveness all at once, putting real world coming-of-age issues into light and putting you right in the shoes of adversity. With attention to details and mostly well written dialog, you become your own character (and detective in a sense.) As far as invasions of privacy go, this one is entertaining and enlightening to say the least.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review.
Final Score: 7.5/10
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