What would you do if you find a smartphone?
Some would keep it, others would try and sell it, but some people would turn the smartphone on, and snoop around a little, maybe find out who the owner is, and luckily try to return the lost phone. We play as one of those people who would actually turn on the phone and because curiosity is sometimes stronger than anything, we get to spy a Normal Lost Phone!
Developed by the French indie studio Accidental Queens, A Normal Lost Phone aims to deliver a new shape of narrative investigation, by exploring someone's private smartphone, and ultimately navigate through his intimacy to find out more about him.
This short but very interesting and detailed game simulates a modern smartphone, with the usual apps we’re all used to by now, such as the Dating app, Music, Browser, Calculator, Weather, Email, Calendar, and pretty much everything you’d expect to find on a phone these days.
Entirely hand drawn, with simple but very nice art onto it, the artistic side of the game, it’s perfectly executed to leave a trail of mystery behind.
Since human curiosity has a tremendous power, it’s impossible not to immediately open all the apps in search for some sort of clue, and so the mystery begins!
The game works like we were on a smartphone, but instead of using our fingertips, we use the mouse cursor, to select apps and browse through the previous owner’s files. By reading the messages, both received and sent, one can see that something's up.
The previous owner of this phone, by the name of Sam, seems to be missing, and it's up to you to find what happened, based on his digital actions of the last 2 months prior to his 18th birthday.
Sam was a normal 17 year old boy, who had a girlfriend, joined clubs, and used to meet friends, but everything changed. He broke up with his girlfriend, lost interest in old activities, and somehow seems distant from his family.
The search for answers quickly becomes more and more interesting as soon as the player unlocks new apps by unveiling the passwords. Hacking is not available, but instead, one must discover the passwords by putting numbers together from special dates and relevant names based on files or chat text. A development of clues that can be unlocked by thinking and following logic.
The game is linear enough to make sure the player doesn’t read or access unnecessary information ahead of its time, therefore every single detail you may come across, might be important.
As the story of Sam progresses through online messageboards, e-mails and unlocked pictures, it becomes a complete race for answers, where the player becomes a true detective, and at some point no longer comes to our mind that we’re actually on a lost phone.
Interaction with NPC’s aren’t available, except for a very particular scene, where the player can extend the interaction previously connected by Sam, but that’s pretty much it. The player can control his movements, but the story and events are already laid down.
As evidences become clear, we understand more and more about Sam’s life, his family and his friends. His motives become obvious, as the messages he wrote online, thriving for a life change event.
A Normal Lost Phone is a very specific experience, that leaves a mark behind your head, forcing you to take (perhaps) a very different approach on a subject many have pre-defined opinions or beliefs. A fantastic approach on a subject rarely mentioned in a video-game industry, Accidental Queens deliver what they personally aimed for by delivering “(...) entertaining while conveying social values and meaningful messages to a broad and diverse audience(...)”.
Uncovering Sam's secrets led me to learn a lot about something I wasn't completely aware of, it made me see things with a different perspective. For that, I am thankful. Some people have an easy life, others don't. Sam represents many of those who walk through hard paths to search happiness.
A Normal Lost Phone is as much of a game as an experience, one that I will never forget!