Accidental Queens, the fledgling studio behind A Normal Lost Phone emerged from an annual and international event of video game creation, Global Game Jam, in which teams create games in just 48 hours. The result was a critically acclaimed prototype of what became the release version of the game. The gaming press (Rock Paper Shotgun, Gamer Network, Joypad and more) and some major developers (including Sam Barlow of Her Story, William Pugh, The Stanley Parable, and Steve Gaynor, Gone Home heaped praise on the working title – and after a successful round of crowd funding the game was released at the start of this year.
A Normal Lost Phone, is described by it’s creators as a narrative investigation game, this format is interestingly mapped as a point and click puzzle that exists on a single phone screen. The premise is remarkably simple – find out who the owner is. What follows is a fantastically managed story playing out amongst the various puzzles within the phone itself.
Through navigating the phone, and completing mini-puzzles such as finding wifi passwords and unlocking hidden pictures, the larger story of the phone’s owner and their fate begins to unravel. The thematic content of the story may not be to everyone’s tastes but the way the story is addressed cannot be faulted. The subtlety and honesty held within the conversations you pry into are fantastic, and a full credit to the writing.
Whilst overall the puzzle mechanics work, they do creak from time to time, and a couple are repetitive. There was one particular hurdle that was particularly tough to navigate, and whilst the clues were there – they were incredibly subtle and the satisfaction of getting past it didn’t quite outweigh the preceding frustration. Other than that one misstep though, the game is hugely enjoyable with an inviting presentation style and enough twists to keep you guessing throughout.
Reviewing games for Midlife Gamer can throw up some really interesting titles that in their modest origins manage to create an experience that is both bold in content and fun in execution. A Normal Lost Phone is a fantastic example of an experiment of storytelling in videogames done right. It’s a couple of hours of immersive detective work, and the tightness of the gameplay and narrative will leave you keeping an eye out for dropped handsets in real life for a chance to unlock their mysteries.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 8/10 Format: Steam / iOS / Android Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of A Normal Lost Phone for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 2 days .