Lost Phone Stories (Switch) Review – Captivating Phones
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed) (Separate Games: PC, Android, iOS, Switch)
Developer: Accidental Queens, Seaven Studio
Publisher: Plug-in Digital, Seaven Studio
Release: 19th July 2018
Everyone loves his smartphone, they make everything so much easier after all. Be it by satisfying our internet addiction on-the-go or simply keeping us busy in boring times. However, what happens when we lose this precious piece of engineering and when someone is actually able to look into what it contains?
Quite a neat concept for two little indie games, right? It is, In the two Lost Phone titles we´ll get to explore phones of two individuals and get to discover what life they had through reading their text messages, checking their browser chronic, pictures and basically everything your phone saves about your behaviour.
However, not every app is useful in the beginning. For example, before doing anything else in the first game, it´s necessary to first find out the Wifi password in order to access the browser or check out various other things. Here the first advantage and disadvantage become evident: Reading is a necessity. The first thing asked of you will be to read through dozens if not hundreds of little chat messages, before arriving at the much-desired password, same with the following tasks like checking out websites.
Luckily, both games can tell interesting subplots through them, making it worthwhile even for reading-sloths (hopefully). Like in the first “phone”, where we explore the breakdown of a relationship and its various facets. The chats actually serve as a foundation to foreshadow and establish characters passively, which works surprisingly great and crafts a unique little stage for events to occur, as much in the past they may be in reality.
Actually, it´s a narrative way I´ve never seen before, despite the fact exploring the past through a pretty much-unfiltered lens is super neat. In particular, because both phone owners are somewhat broken people, without the game openly telling you that. Instead of painting the actions red and white through its writing, we´re presented with a pretty open play-space, where we have to find out own conclusion about the characters. Given, the two aren´t revolutionary storylines but probably just the right fit for an intimate exploration through their phone, to keep them fresh.
A huge part why all this works is because of the natural progression, every obstacle makes sense. While Lost Phone Stories only offers up to 3-4 hours of playtime, they tend to feel more like 2 hours due to the fact no secret or revelation is hidden behind the unnecessary padding. Instead, everything flows very nicely and constantly rewards you for either spending the time reading optional stuff or simply following the main path. It´s a pretty great, light puzzler experience, fitting for a smartphone since no one spends the time encrypting all their stuff.
What´s also striking is the presentation which, contrary to the first world thematics, makes use of classic paintings. Pretty much anything, from the photos, websites, backgrounds looks like it was hand-painted, rather than computer generated. Especially the avatars and group pictures look fantastic in this interesting art style. However, the best thing about the Lost Phone Stories are the amazing soundtracks, actually feeling like music teenagers would listen to, while at the same time providing the atmosphere needed to enjoy this unusual trip.
Admittedly, Lost Phone Stories is a collection of two rather tiny games for a tiny price. Luckily, they can deliver a surprisingly good experience, exploring the many problems and advantages of our daily drivers. Honestly, if you´re a fan of relaxed puzzlers, this is a great in-between snack.
[A Review Code was provided by Seaven Studio]