Thursday, April 26

Review: Another Lost Phone - Laura's Story [Nintendo Switch eShop]


I’m always intrigued to try out games that do things in a different way, particularly in the area of control. Perhaps predictably, much like the original Lost Phone this new journey (aside from sharing concepts it has no connection to the original) puts you in the shoes of someone who is trying to uncover the story of someone’s life only through the information in their phone. It’s a clever dynamic and also serves as a somewhat frightening commentary on why you really need to secure your devices and be smart about passwords, though comparatively I think it lacks the punch of the original.

Reviewing games where the story, and the discovery of details about the people involved, is so important is tricky because you want to provide a taste without ruining anything. In the case of Another Lost Phone I’d say that the players and subject matter are far less controversial than the original. Rather than deal in concepts of sexuality and personal identity, the sequel treads a more traditional path concerning the perils of relationships, trying to figure out who your friends are, and the perils of certain shared materials getting past their intended audience. The result is a mystery that requires backtracking through interactions and patching together an understanding of the people involved only through their electronic communications.

Mechanically to do all of this you’ll need to be both a catalogue of information that you’ve run across, if not remembering every detail as you go at least keeping track of people who were talked to and rough details you may have seen. Pictures, names, dates, relationships, and probably anything you see that is numeric in some way are worth keeping track of as you go as in order to dig through the layers of password-protected apps on the phone you’ll need to recollect and combine pieces of information in a variety of ways. Doing this can be tricky as you’ll need to go through pretty well every text, email, and app you have available to you to piece together the information you’ll need. Beware that this can be aggravating or tedious, depending on your tastes and the experience you’re hoping for, but it’s also a bit interesting because it’s just a very different way to play a game.


In terms of criticisms I’d say the biggest obstacle is likely the style of gameplay, which for some people may not necessarily feel like “play”. You need to have some degree of snoop or sleuth in you to enjoy poring through someone’s communications, especially keeping in mind that much of what is there is simply everyday talk and not information you can necessarily use. Granted, all of this helps to flesh out all of the people involved and they often feel like very real conversations, but this element is a bit more like a story or sorts than a “game”. In terms of comparing it to the original Lost Phone game I’d say, as a whole, that this is a less compelling and significant story, it was the more controversial elements of the original that also made it more interesting. This story is still relevant, and more likely to be relatable to people’s own experiences, it just doesn’t have as much significant to say.

Another Lost Phone continues on the path that the original set, but it doesn’t really break any new ground aside from telling a different person’s story. If you enjoyed the original’s mechanics and would like to explore someone in a very different set of circumstances it’s easy to recommend. If you’re unfamiliar with the original and this sounds interesting I’d say the original, with a story tying to someone in an alternative lifestyle, is probably more compelling but it also more likely to make people feel uncomfortable comparably. Above all, as a commentary about what people can learn about others through only their phone, this series continues to be interesting and scary. How much “fun” you can have with them is likely a matter of wildly different opinions though.


Score: 7

Pros:
  • A very different kind of experience
  • The text-based interactions collected together do an effective job of painting a picture of a slice of these people’s lives
  • Low cost of entry

Cons:
  • Though the overall story is less controversial than the original it is also less revealing and compelling
  • Trying to figure out passwords by patching together a variety of details from different information hidden in a variety of apps can be maddening
  • It’s a one-time experience you won’t have want or need to return to once completed