Different Outside, Same Inside
If Found… is a visual novel with a compelling hand-drawn art style and an interactive gameplay experience, as you follow Kasio’s story from Ireland in December 1993, the darkest moments of her life. The events of the story have already taken place, and now Kasio is reflecting on her Auld Lang Syne and erasing it in order to move forward.
The gameplay also reflects that, and it’s very simple: you are reading Kasio's diary about what had occurred, her family, close friends, and the emotions she had gone through during all that time; only now you have to erase it all with your mouse cursor becoming an eraser. Although it is repetitive having to erase everything from the beginning to the end, the captivating story and character development themselves are engaging enough for players to look past it.
Coffee, coffee… who doesn't love a cup of hot coffee? ☕
If Found... features a simple mechanic: Keep erasing until there's nothing left, and you get an achievement for that too!
Naturally Written and Well-made Representation
A common mistake in the media is to make a minority character and throw them into the mix for the sake of it, with no personality or interesting characteristic traits at all, a.k.a “Shoehorning’. It is the worst fate that could ever happen to any fictional character, particularly the minority ones, as it harms the viewing of, or even downright demoralizes the group of people that the character is symbolizing.
Thankfully, that’s not the case in If Found…. Even though Kasio herself is an individual belonging to a small and not (yet) rightfully acknowledged portion of the population, her story is handled very carefully and naturally so that everyone - not just the people in that group - can relate to her. There’re actually just two words in two instances, in her entire diary, suggesting that Kasio is a minority character. Just by replacing those words, you will have a story pretty much about overcoming the traditional expectation of the family for their children - which is something most children like Kasio have to go through during their youth.
Hiding yourself in order to please others 💢
That is not something you'd want to do for your entire life. Let's erase that and start anew, shall we?
Soundtracks that Strengthen the Experience
There is a saying “Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t”, and it perfectly describes how I felt while reading Kasio's diary. Every situation and portion of her story has suitable music from Ireland around the time of the 1990s, which is a neat little detail that I would not expect. Towards the end, I couldn’t help but keep erasing faster and faster to know what would happen, as the music just sped things up, and my heartbeat went up with it too.
Epilepsy Warning, Where Is It?
As much as I enjoyed playing, I had to blink a lot more than usual during the story, and my eyes were actually sore in the end. There are a lot of moments with flashy and fast-flickering images, but there isn’t an epilepsy warning from the beginning or anywhere in the game. This is probably my biggest issue, and although I don’t have epilepsy, my eyes still hurt. This may put off many people, so the lack of a warning is risky for both the game and the players.
This is my first game where the protagonist comes from the community the same as I do. I tend to stay away from media works (movies, games, etc) that claim to have lead minority characters but only ruin them.
That being said, I’m very pleased and happy with this title, as it not only does representation right and respectfully, but it is also a one-time experience of looking back at my past to see how far I've come and how much I've grown.
Everything Kasio did and went through back in 1993 all the way over in Ireland is nearly identical to what I had been through during the beginning periods of my early adult life. There’s even an extra side story about her alternative persona that happened along with the main story as a metaphor for what’s going on, which I think is a nice touch. It’s amazing how we're so far apart in distance and time, but still manage to sympathize with each other.
The game is very short, with a two or three hour playtime in one sitting depending on your reading speed, and achievement afk-grinding, though it’s still an experience worthy of note . Whether you are from our community or not, this is a story about overcoming the expectations of a traditional family, becoming the person who you want to be, having the life you truly deserve, and finding connection to your loved ones by closing the generation gap. It’s something that everyone will encounter, sooner or later.
We all deserve happiness ❤️
In the end, that is what we all yearn for. Don't let the generation gap prevent you from it, it's a goal worth fighting for!
Final rating: 8/10
If you are "finding" a good game to get to know more about minority characters, If Found… visual novel is the right one. This title is definitely worth the full price, even better if it's on sale.
Thank you for reading my review!
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