Developed By: Kaigan Games
Published By: Wales Interactive
Category: FMV Horror Sim
Release Date: 12.03.2019
Simulacra is a lost phone, simulation title with FMV horror aspects. As you have discovered a random phone and begin to search through to discover its owner, you are taken on an adventure into darkness and the occult. These seemingly normal people have gotten themselves into quite the predicament, and you have a chance to save everyone involved, if you make the right choices. Choice-based dialogue and a branching story allow for multiple endings and playthroughs in this scary take on titles such as A Normal Lost Phone or Bury Me, My Love. From the creators of Sara Is Missing, welcome to the simulacrum you worm.
You are following the story of Anna, a seemingly nice girl, who has been going through a breakup and rough time at work. With all of these depressing things happening in her life, she has decided to download Spark, the dating app based off of Tinder, to see what is out there. As she goes missing, you find connections to her ex-boyfriend, current Spark love interests, as well as her best friend Ashley. Putting all the pieces together won’t be easy, but as you collect information and search through her personal messages and photos closely you will find you will need everyone’s help here to get Anna back. Although with its flaws and indie horror movie vibes, this was a story that engrossed me from start to finish, even with its lackluster scares that mostly consist of image distortion and creepy, unnatural occurrences. I felt connected closely to the cast, as is the attempt with this genre of title, and I needed to find out what was going to happen no matter what.
Gameplay is where games like this suffer a bit, generally, and this one is no different. Puzzles were very weak across the board, consisting of unshuffling corrupted messages and pictures in order to gain story progression. Otherwise all you are doing is paying close attention to dialogue and the items you are reading / looking through to find hints or important information. With this in mind, know that this title is going for purely story strokes, and isn’t meant to be challenging or a true puzzler. They even have a system in which characters will text you hints if you take too long finding the next piece of relevant information. I found that very user friendly, as searching endlessly for a small bit of info can be frustrating, but others might consider it a break from the immersion or too much help.
Besides the simplistic puzzle system, you really are just choosing from dialogue tree options in order to direct the story in different paths. Each text message offers you several responses and allow you to do things like keep your identity a secret to try to gain some specific information or immediately spill the beans to try to get everyone working together. While each individual piece of dialogue isn’t weighted in importance, there are very distinct paths you can takes at various paths in the road that allow for the different endings to come to fruition. All in all, this system allows for you to try to be clever with your decisions so you can get where you need to go, rather than having sweeping repercussions like in something like Fallout or The Elder Scrolls. The actual hard changes in the endings come down to fairly minuscule differences at very specific junctures.
There were a couple bumps in the road that held up progression that are still kind of confusing to me. At one point you have where the phone is trying to reset to factory settings, and you fail to stop it. So, you reboot the phone and start entering your own personal information. It came to a question asking for “the saddest moment in your life” to which I put a few ramblings. For some reason though, it wouldn’t accept my answer, regardless of length of the text. I literally spammed letters for hundreds of characters and couldn’t progress. It wasn’t until I looked up a guide for the iOS port that I found out you have to specifically word your phrasing in order for your answer to be accepted, with no hint as to what they are looking for outside of the question itself. When all the other sections of the game were so user-friendly and conducive to my progression, this was one of a couple similar bumps I encountered that totally halted progress for no real reason. Otherwise I was able to make my way through the game to completion without the use of any aid but might be necessary to get to the different endings.
This title looks great. There isn’t anything taxing here, so it should, but I was impressed with the clarity and performance of the game, especially in some video sections that have some interesting things happening all at once. It looks like a phone, and acts like a phone, so Simulacra acts as it should. Completely immersive in this sense.
Simulacra is the horror game equivalent to something like Unfriended, the B-tier horror film about haunted technology. It isn’t all that scary, and isn’t offering a story that is going to knock your socks off, but the cast performs well and the characters are likeable enough that I felt like I had to come to some sort of conclusion to this tale. I played this one in a single setting, which took only a few hours, but I couldn’t get up for even a refill, so regardless of quality, it was something I couldn’t put down. If you liked Telltale games or similar point-and-click titles than I could see you finding some value in this title as well, since it lacks depth to gameplay, but at the end of the day offers a perfect “lose yourself for a few hours” experience late at night with the lights out.
Buy Now – $12.99
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*The Switch Effect was provided a code for this game*