Have you ever lost a phone, one that was never found again and wondered who may have found it and even looked through it? Or even, have you ever found one and looked through it yourself? This is the concept that surrounds the nature of Lost Phone Stories, a collection of two previously released titles that has now been released as a collection upon the Nintendo Switch.
Developed by Accidental Queens and published through Plug In Digital, this title contains the two games A Normal Lost Phone and Another Lost Phone: Laura’s Story, both of which are also available as standalone titles. They work around the premise of assuming that you have found a phone and read through a series of messages that evoke questions on firstly, whom the owner could be and secondly, after prior investigations, the story that surrounds them through a form of teasing revelations or mystery.
Both games contain a separate story from each other, A Normal Lost Phone deals with a protagonist called Sam who has mysteriously disappeared, whilst Another Lost Phone centres around a woman named Laura whose trials and tribulations concerning close relationships give a cause for concern. Each of the titles on offer here work in the same premise, that being of modelled on the functions of a real mobile phone as you scroll through messages, unlock passwords and delve deeper into the lives of their previous owners.
You are forced to play detective after reading the initial display of sent and received messages that have been performed on each respective phone. For instance, in order to gain access to emails, you need to find the password for a WiFi connection. In order to achieve this, you need to scan through the information that is available to uncover clues on how to obtain the relevant information you are looking for. It’s a very clever mechanic and one that truly immerses you, as each of the games perfectly replicate the operating systems of a smart-phone; producing a realism that fools you into the false sense that you are really looking through someone else’s phone. Something which is enhanced further by the game’s ability to change perspective on the Switch’s screen so that you actually hold it as if you were holding a proper phone. I can only imagine the immersion you must feel from playing this game on an actual phone!
With its replication of a smart phone’s operating system, you have access, or need to gain access, to a variety of apps that you would normally find on any home screen. Text messages, email clients, calendars, calculators, it’s all here and is superbly implemented; it even contains a music app where you can choose from a variety of soundtracks to listen to whilst you delve ever deeper into the lives of the stranger’s phones you now possess.
Each of the stories on offer here, deal with difficult subjects which are often marginalised by their topics. It’s a clever way of educating people to the real world, as well as provide a subject matter that forces you to investigate further, as the fabric of the phone’s content slowly unravels to reveal itself to you. I won’t delve too much into the individual stories on offer here, as this would produce spoilers, but what I can say is that each of them are well-presented in a way, that creates empathy and makes you think about the world. A scary prospect indeed if this was really someone’s phone that I was playing with.
There’s a lot here to like, it’s a very unique format and one, that for the most part, works extremely well. However, despite its level of immersion, it also contains a few elements that draws you straight back to reality, thus ruining the illusion somewhat. The first of these revolve the use of photographs that are stored within each of the phones’ memory. These are presented in an hand-drawn format, creating an artwork style of aesthetic normally found in a comic-book presentation. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but using real photographs would have reinforced the game’s immersion; even creating a creepy persona that could easily fool your mind into thinking that this was real. The second element that broke any realism for me, was the selection of soundtracks on offer. They just didn’t feel believable, sounding almost too ‘Video-Gamey’ in their production and presentation values. However, despite this, at the end of the day, you’re never going to escape that your actually playing these games on a Switch, rather than a phone, and there’s no bigger immersion breaker than that!
Despite its presentation and involving storyline and mechanics, it’s also quite limited, both in terms of playtime and long-term appeal. Depending on your level of deduction, or how quickly you can scan through texts to pick out the relevant information, each of these titles can be completed in a matter of hours. For what it’s worth though, they do entertain for that time. However, once the culmination of each story has been achieved, there’s nothing really to make you want to come back and revisit them. After all, they’ll always follow the same techniques, answers and solutions in order to unlock the plots and themes that are contained within.
Overall though, Lost Phone Stories does provide a very unique experience; one that is totally immersive and unforgettable. It provides a nice pace rarely seen in video games these days and also possesses an air of freshness around its execution. It perfectly suits the casual style of play, a genre that is abundant upon the Nintendo Switch, but I can guarantee you that you won’t find a title like this one. While it lasts, it provides an interesting perspective that entertains, as well as educates with its nuanced topics and adult themes that provokes feelings for the player. All in all, these are a couple of games, in one title, whose lost phones are worth finding.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.