Simulacra 2, phoney detective – First Sip Review
Simulacra 2 is a psychological horror murder mystery game. While it is the follow up to the original Simulacra, this one is a completely different story. Developed by Kaigan Games and published by Another Indie (the team who published the upcoming Elden and Jack Axe games among others).
Simulacra 2 is what has come to be known as a found phone horror game. Essentially you end up with a dead girl’s phone and it is filled with the clues that will eventually lead to the real cause of her death. Unlike the previous game or other similar titles (Sara is Missing comes to mind and received an honorable mention in our top horror games of the decade list), you actually get a choice of character in this game. You can select to be a journalist or a detective, in which each option bringing a fresh perspective to how the story progresses.
The shorthand story is that a social media influencer (like me…except instead of gaming she’s popular), has suddenly died. The police have closed the case saying it was natural causes, specifically a heart attack. However, Detective Murilo is not convinced, and with good reason as Maya (the victim) was a yoga and well-being lifestyle guru, so a heart attack seems a little out of place. Murilo takes the victim’s phone and passes it off to you so you can assist in the case and figure out what really happened.
As you progress you’ll eventually narrow down your shortlist of suspects and try to solve the case. It’s a pretty engaging story, and even if she does seem a little pretentious you still want to get justice for Maya.
This is a harder than normal aspect to judge. Simulacra 2, much like most found phone games, uses actual live-action footage. So naturally, everything looks realistic because…it’s real people. However, the developers have created their own OS and apps for the phone. Most of which are convincing versions of well-known apps (twitter, Instagram etc.) There are also glitches and corrupted data on the screen. And some of the videos that you see in-game have intros and special effects that look quite good. Again it’s hard to rank the visuals on a typical gaming standard. But, even if you look at it as an indie movie which it at times is closer too. It looks better than things like “Megan is Missing” or “Unfriended” which use similar gimmicks.
The videos in the game generally look less realistic than those movies. But, as a trade-off, they look more cinematic which is more pleasing. And Maya’s photo-gallery looks incredibly real to see.
Again this is hard to judge as a standard game. The audio in the videos is pretty crisp and generally easy to understand. They also have an option to enable subtitles which breaks the immersion but makes it easier to understand. There are small pieces of music, like when you first start the game and background music in videos. However, the music is largely diegetic meaning that it exists in the world of the video. This means that the game is largely silent when you’re not watching a video. This is more realistic but it would have been nice to have some music in the background. Perhaps later in the story, you gain an option to access her music as you do in Sara is Missing.
Sound-effects are quite well done and most feel like authentic notifications. You get little dings and clicks for interacting with things like most phones would have. I’m not sure if they used an existing phone type for the sound settings or if they created them for the game. However, I haven’t heard the specific noises they use so it is possible they built them for the game.
As a sort of whodunnit mystery, most of the gameplay revolves around finding clues. You will receive text messages, can check emails, use an in-game web browser, check the gallery and more. Occasionally something will stand out and a little icon will appear allowing you to capture the information as a clue. The WARDEN app Murilo installs on the phone is where you will store the clues and perform actions such as restoring the phone. For the most part, the investigation is left up to you but the WARDEN system gives you an idea of where to go next and can even provide hints if you get stuck.
When text messaging, you normally have two or three reply options allowing you to go down different dialogue trees. Whereas some other aspects like the dialing function give you more freedom to just type numbers. The developers have done a great job adding all sorts of things you can do in the game but if you go way off track like trying to look up real websites, dial your own number or anything else the game doesn’t expect, then you’ll receive a dead-end message but it doesn’t end the game and you can go back to what you should be doing at any time.
When you get to the end of the game you’ll need to accuse the suspect you believe committed the crime. Also as a side note, while the game follows a different story than the original Simulacra they do seem to be set in the same universe.
Simulacra 2 is an easy game to recommend for fans of the found phone horror genre. It’s slick and well polished, maybe too much so for people looking for a gritty realistic game. But it’s obvious the developers know what they are doing and have put a lot of work into the game. If you’re looking for a mix of action with your detective work, you probably won’t find this game scratches the itch. But if you’re interested in a narrative based experience with a deep and engaging story, it’s well worth diving into.
After playing Simulacra 2, I’m left wondering just what else they can add to the genre next.
In Coffee Terms
In coffee terms, it is like a choc-fudge vanilla whip frappuccino. It’s technically a coffee but almost only by name. The presentation is nice and many would snap a photo for Instagram before drinking it. But really it’s more for someone with a sweet tooth than a hardcore coffee drinker. There’s nothing wrong with it and if you’re looking for something sweet then look no further. But if you’re expecting an intense coffee burst then order something else.
Simulacra 2 Links
Simulacra 2 Review Summary
One half of the YouTube brother duo, The Game Bros with Sirhc and Ar0n, Chris is a lover of games, movies and other great things you can do from home.
Coffee of choice: I like the sweeter kinds, mixed with chocolate, coconut, caramel etc. but I won’t turn down a flat white or a straight black either.