SIMULACRA puts you in the shoe of a stranger who is trying to find the owner of a lost phone. Will you succeed or will you fail?
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Kaigan Games OÜ
Publisher: Kaigan Games OÜ,
Release date: 26 Oct, 2017
You found a lost phone. Inside, you find someone asking for help. SIMULACRA puts you in the shoe of a stranger who is trying to find the owner of a lost phone. Will you succeed or will you fail?
As a game that is played out on a smartphone, the game does well to simulate the phone-like interface. It has a photo app, a contact book, a chat app – anything that you’ll expect from a smartphone. Its functionality is limited tough. There is no option to switch between tabs nor a scroll bar on the right side of the screen to scroll the page faster.
The story is played out from series of chats. Expect a lot of typos and shortened words due to the informal context. This gives them a personality though, especially since everyone has a unique texting style from each other. Some information can also be retrieved by watching videos and receiving phone calls, although their voice is not expressive enough – it feels dragged out on purpose to make it easier for non-native English speakers to listen to. It does make them easier to hear, but it also kills their expression in the process.
Interface aside, the presentation helps with the storytelling. The glitchy screen and a few jumpscares help to set the mysterious vibe, while the surprising phone calls freak me out sometimes. It got toned down as you play the game, focusing more on the mysterious element. The writing was done well in regards to what’s happening and sometimes, you will have several options to choose from. Despite giving the same outcome, the conversation will play out differently based on which option that you choose. However, some sentences not flowing smoothly after choosing a certain option, giving you the impression that you chose the wrong one.
The gameplay is focused on chatting with people and exploring everything that is inside the phone that you used. As I said before, sometimes you will have to choose between several options to proceed. Some of them will affect the endings, some are not. Some old chat and photos will also be encrypted, allowing you to play a minigame to restore their state, whether it’s arranging photos or word. It’s quite easy to finish although some words might be difficult to arrange sometimes.
Hints are usually provided whenever you are stuck. You can ask people to figure out what you are supposed to do and they will gladly help you out. However, I got stuck twice with no idea to proceed. Although one is expected since I never do well with puzzles that have vague rules, another feels like they don’t give enough hints to solve.
Length and Difficulty
I finished the game in ~4h, and proceed to replay the game several times to get all achievements. The new game+ helps a lot by providing a faster chat speed, allowing you to finish the game faster. However, you still need to wait for the voice-over near the ending to finish, and they talk very slowly. It was tiring to wait for them to finish and playing the game several times to unlock all four endings become not fun anymore. I wish there is an option to fast-forward the game at this point.
Although the game has a phone-like interface, some quality of life features are missing, notably the option to switch tabs in the browser (or the option to keep existing tab), and the feature to start a video from a certain timestamp. There were also some occasions when I had to type some forms and I couldn’t use the tab button to switch between text boxes. Lastly, there are some flashing lights near the ending – people who have issues with it might want to stay out of the game.
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
For a visual novel game, it still can be enjoyed with people who don’t like to read a wall of text. You might need to read a lot, but they are mostly in the form of short chats which shouldn’t take long to finish. The story picks up an interesting topic that is enhanced with its mysterious vibe, and although the story feels weak at times, it still proves to be an enjoyable read.