App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story is the follow up to the excellent A Normal Lost Phone. Both of these games are sort of puzzle/adventure games where the entire experience simulates a stranger's phone screen that you then dig through to uncover some sort of narrative. As a sequel, Laura's Story presents some more polish and complexity than its predecessor, but other than that, it uses a lot of the same tricks from the first game. This makes Laura's Story a fine sequel, but also one that is a little unsurprising.
If you haven't played A Normal Lost Phone or a game like it, the idea behind it is pretty simple: You have found a stranger's phone, and your goal is to learn about its owner. With this being the case, the entirety of Laura's Story (as with other games in this genre) is presented within a fictionalized smartphone interface, complete with apps, utilities, and settings for you to futz with.
The game starts with the phone being completely disconnected from any sort of data connection, but you still have access to all of the phone's local data, which allows you to put enough information together to get the phone online and access some of the owner's most private information. In doing so, players are also treated to a surprising and intriguing narrative about the phone's owner that is pieced together through text messages, photos, cloud services, and more.
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There are certainly games that have told stories through fake phone interfaces before, but what set A Normal Lost Phone apart was just how intimate and detailed its storytelling got. The same is true here with Laura's Story, but it's a little less impactful this time. Most of this has to do with the surprise that came with the first game's revelations. As a sequel, the reveals in Laura's Story still tell a personal and affecting story, but are not themselves unexpected.
Thankfully, Laura's Story doesn't need to be full of surprises to weave an interesting tale. It's still fun to read through the game's text threads, notes, and emails because they read like they were written by real people. Laura's Story features a diverse cast of characters, none of whom you meet, but all of whom become memorable because of how they communicate with Laura digitally. It's an amazing feat, particularly because these short-form communications manage to contain puzzle hints in addition to some great characterization.
Laura's Story only truly stands above the first A Normal Lost Phone in its polish and puzzle design. The interface for this game looks much more like a real phone, and the puzzles housed within them are quite a bit more complicated than they were in the first game.
Where A Normal Lost Phone used mostly basic phone functions for pretty easy and straightforward puzzles, Laura's Story takes advantage of more technical parts of the smartphones and even forces players to do some math and guesswork to unlock all of the phone's secrets. This added challenge could be off-putting to some, but I personally found the harder puzzles a welcome addition that made the narrative pay-offs more satisfying.
The bottom line
Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story is more or less true to its name. It is very much another game like A Normal Lost Phone. This makes it a pretty unsurprising package in some ways, but there are also some welcome improvements that improve the experience. Even with these enhancements though, Laura's Story just doesn't have the same magical impact of A Normal Lost Phone. It's still a great game, but it's also completely expected.