Device simulations allows you to play detective
Size: 2 GB
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Developer: Kaigan Games
In many ways, Simulacra mirrors the life of the story it’s telling. Following the rather non-ceremonial death of internet influencer Maya, her phone becomes the key piece of evidence to solve her death – which may have been a little more ceremonial than official records tell. Look through the contents of her phone and, on the surface, you’ll find a happy life full of photos of yoga poses and messages from friends. But as soon as you dig a little deeper, using police data retrieval software, it quickly becomes apparent that what lies beneath is the real story.
Simulacra 2 is not an original concept. The previous iteration aside, the last few years has seen plenty of narrative games that essentially put a device on top of your device to tell the game. This is no different. Depending on the route you take (we initially took the role of a journalist) you take possession of the deceased phone in a different way. We were given it by a police detective that works in a supernatural wing of the police department who believes the death might have something more ethereal behind it.
The device you’re given starts out pretty basic – a few photos, a few messages. But quickly as you message with the detective he provides more and more access to different police tools. WARDEN, the system they use allows you to retrieve corrupted data, allowing you to view videos of a scared Maya shortly before her death.
You’re then asked to use clues like her mannerisms, or interactions with others to find out exactly what she was thinking and how she was feeling before her death.
The game’s pretty well paced. Many of these stories focus too much on the messaging aspect, meaning that you have to sit around waiting for messages as many work on a real-time basis. Simulacra 2 is purely based within the game itself so you can focus on it properly. Also, you’re prompted to explore the device and gather clues, and the way it doesn’t reveal too much too soon makes it far more a joy to play.
It also includes a number of cutscenes, from initial interactions, such as when the detective gave us the phone, to some amusing and awkward police training videos as the aging detective – a team of one that’s been allowed to investigate the paranormal – tries to explain how the technology works.
The acting is decent too. It doesn’t feel like the developers had employed a bunch of students to keep costs down.
There are other interesting approaches that work in its favor. It doesn’t try too hard to mimic iOS or make it feel like you are holding the same phone. It solidifies you in the world with a device design that requires a little more focus to navigate. Some apps you’ll recognize, others you won’t. Exploration is the aim of the game.
There are also a number of different paths and endings available to players, so while it’s a $5 game, there’s plenty of hours of play in there. However, while the beginning is well-designed, it gets a little glitchy as you progress. Nothing game-breaking though, so if you’re looking for something simple but immersive, Simulacra 2 is a good shout.
- High production values
- It's a little buggy
- Huge download size