With a similar unique storytelling angle to that of Her Story and Gone Home, Accidental Queens present a very intriguing concept. You find someone’s phone, and without any respect of their privacy you rummage through as much information in their phone as possible, trying to find out what happened to them. I even stopped myself halfway through, thinking; what kind of person am I to simply nosey through someone else’s messages? I should just keep my grubby mits to myself and hand it into lost property. While that is probably the most moral thing to do, it wouldn’t make a very interesting game, so I continued rooting.
It’s hard to deny the beginning of the game is a bit of an information dump. Presented with hundreds of messages from at least 20 people, reading them all can be a bit daunting. The basic premise of all this snooping soon made it less daunting and more exciting however. The original owner of the phone Sam, clearly got his new phone on the 1st of December 2015, sending a text message to all his old contacts as we do. The date on the phone clearly shows the 31st of January 2016. This gives the player a nice window of about 2 months worth of messages between Sam and his friends and family. Restricting the time was clever, uncovering the story never felt too overwhelming.
We are so familiar with linear storytelling, just like Her Story it definitely takes a bit of patience to get used to. You are thrown into many conversations with very little context, it can be very confusing at times. While confusing I still enjoyed this process, numerous mini-revelations come together in your head as you progress. Re-reading previous messages in a new light is really satisfying as everything starts to make sense.
The only way I can truly compare it is like watching the film Memento for the second time. You also get a few fascinating insights into how numerous characters all feel about one situation, and their different perspectives. The characters are consistently written, from uncles who write all their messages in all caps, to lovey dovey conversations between lovers.
It manages to capture the web of drama that unfolds between people feeling their way into adulthood. Emotions are high as people start to discover who they are; transitioning from a world of forced friendships in high-school to one with more freedom. The main theme of the story also ventures into places not everyone will be able to relate to. This isn’t a bad thing however, as it provides a truly unique perspective. I like to think it gave me an understanding of something many people find hard to grasp.
While the characters are very much believable there are jarring moments when they accidentally come out of character, when they give you clues on how to progress on solving the next puzzle. These moments were never extreme enough to greatly alter my experience, but they felt strange in an otherwise very well written game.
It’s hard to say much more without ruining anything. The story kept me glued to my screen for two hours until I completed it, I didn’t even get up to go to the toilet. As someone who often takes very frequent breaks this is saying a lot. The original soundtrack is a little short, but lovingly created. It even gives you a taste for Sam’s music taste, as you will discover the music is playing on the phone’s music player. If you really like a track feel free to play it over and over again.
A Normal Lost Phone is a rare game, for some it will eagerly captivative them from beginning to end, and others will find it a bit boring. If you enjoyed Gone Home and Her Story you will most definitely like it, and at such a low price it’s hard to not recommend. I played it on my laptop but it is also available for iOS and Android, a much more suitable platform for obvious reasons. Even if you think you’re part of the camp who will find it boring, it’s definitely worth a try!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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