What would you do if a mobile phone belonging to someone else was left on your doorstep? Chances are (in this day and age) the device is protected with face ID, fingerprint ID or a password and/or pin, so naturally any self-respecting citizen would turn it in to the police. But in Simulacra, an unusual glitch allows you to immediately access a lost mobile phone, and it’s up to you to find out what happened to its owner, Anna.
Laid out like a typical modern-day smartphone, you’ll need to investigate the installed apps for clues and engage with Anna’s contacts in order to ascertain hints about her whereabouts. It’s initially a bit tedious, as there’s quite a lot of darting back and forth between the various apps as you piece together the puzzle, but eventually something ‘clicks’ and you’ll find yourself hooked. There’s something extremely satisfying when something you made a mental note of early on turns out to be pretty vital to the progression of the story later.
it’s not all great, though. The voice acting during the game’s video and audio logs is absolutely awful, and not in the slightly endearing way that early Resident Evil games are. To exacerbate this, the writing is frequently hit and miss, and despite the fairly grounded tone of the game, the dialogue is far too flamboyant and is constantly at odds with the otherwise sinister plot. Additionally, the game often resorts to jump scare tactics for its horror, which – if you’re playing handheld – really aren’t that effective.
But what’s most baffling about Simulacra is why more wasn’t done to make it a more authentic mobile experience. Touch controls are available, but bizarrely there’s no option to play the game in TATE mode. Instead, the phone display is slap bang in the middle of the Switch’s (or TV’s) screen, with a bland background surrounding it. We guess it’s a neat way to make it more of a straight-up horror title, but if you’re playing handheld, some aspects may be a tad small for those who are a bit more long-sighted. Still, with multiple endings, this is a horror game that’s worth a look if you’re after a quick fix.