App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
It's rare when a video game's story is good. This is especially true on mobile, where most games are meant to be quick arcade experiences, monetized toys, or some combination of the two. This is what makes If Found... such a pleasant surprise. It isn't a mobile exclusive title (it's readily available on Steam), but it's a special kind of game that loses nothing in coming to mobile screens and stands so high above most other narrative-focused games on the platform that you owe it to yourself to play it.
Notebooks and nebulas
If Found... is not a conventional game. There are no puzzles, challenges, enemies, or any true tests or obstacles to stand in your way of playing it. The game is so focused on its storytelling that the only real thing you do in it is erase things by wiping your finger across the screen.
As you erase, you learn the story of Kasio, a woman who is struggling to find herself after returning home from school to her small hometown in Ireland. As the plot thickens, you eventually learn about why of all this erasure is happening. At the same time, another narrative unfolds involving an astronaut who has come across a black hole that threatens Earth. In terms of story, I'll stop there, as going on the journey to figure out what is happening and how these stories are related is the a core component of enjoying If Found...
Erase the past
Scenes in If Found... largely play out on the pages of Kasio's notebook, which is full of her personal reflections. These entries are accompanied with sketches, scribbles, scraps, and more. In these pages, you learn a lot about the inner thoughts of Kasio, and you carry this knowledge into interstitial scenes where you view snippets of how her life reaches a major turning point around Christmas of 1993.
You don't really have much control over what is happening in the game, but it's hard not to feel deeply connected to Kasio and her story. Part of this has to do with the fact that you have direct access to her thoughts and spend much of your time wiping them out of existence. This wouldn't be as effective as it is though without If Found...'s incredible audio and visual design, which manages to give impressive depth and expression to what looks mostly like hurried sketches.
If Found...'s story is incredibly heartfelt and full of so many specific, personal touches that it draws you in completely and doesn't let go. Much of it focuses on personal connection, and it manages to illustrate just how complicated we can make that sometimes.
Playing If Found... takes a little getting used to, but only because of how simple and straightforward it is compared to other games. There were times early on when I waited for scenes to change before realizing I had to wipe them myself, or times where an errant finger brush erased some text before I got the chance to read it. By the end of the experience, though, I was glad to have agency over the game's pacing, as it allowed me the opportunity to sit and absorb certain scenes that really resonated with me in my own time.
The bottom line
If Found... is one of those games that you really have to experience for yourself. Although your interactions with it aren't particularly complicated, there's a power in the simple act of swiping that makes every moment feel significant. Make sure you find time to play If Found... This game is special.