What if you found a phone in the middle of nowhere with no owner in sight? Would you just leave it? Or would you pick it up and see if you can work out where the owner has gone by looking through their phone? How far would you go? How many files would you search for and how much would you discover about this mysterious, missing owner? These are the questions Sara is Missing presents you with. How will you answer?
Sara is Missing(I’ve just realised its initials are SIM. That’s quite clever.) is a free game you can download where you find a phone with no owner. The game starts with a simple phone lockscreen and after a swift and sudden scare your brought to the phone’s empty app screen. The phone has an AI called IRIS(Siri backwards, haha) who can somehow see you are not Sara and asks you to return the phone. Obviously you can’t so IRIS requests you to help her find out what happened to Sara and why she has gone missing by looking through the phone’s files. IRIS even says she “wants” to find Sara and after blatantly shoving the fact that an AI can’t or at least shouldn’t have human feelings of want quickly brushes the matter under the carpet and IRIS starts restoring the corrupted phone files.
One of the main parts I liked about Sara is Missing was the presentation of the whole mobile phone concept. Despite playing it on PC, it felt like I was genuinely looking through a mobile phone. Small things such as being able to put music on in the background and actually receiving random calls from people I didn’t know gave it a feeling of being authentic and more real. I haven’t played it on an actual phone but I assume that only adds to the immersion.
However, despite being a great idea, Sara is Missing is an extremely flawed game. There are a few moments when the mood and immersion is completely killed by something stupid. For example, at one point you watch a video which is said to kill whoever watches it. Apart from being very cliche the video not only brought the scares to a sudden stop but made me laugh out loud. The short video is composed of a mismatch of popular creepy videos from the internet including a very blatant scene from the popular found footage web series Marble Hornets. It was a shame because the glitch effects the phone screen in the game started making were very convincing and cool but any fear I had was completely lost upon seeing the stolen Marble Hornets scene.
As well as this, there is no real choice in the game as the itch.io webpage advertising Sara is Missing might have you believe. The first time you play through the game it isn’t as noticeable but if you decide to have a second playthrough like me, the lack of real choices is glaring. In total, there are only two or three ‘big’ choices in the game yet only the last one really seems to matter. Not only that but even the text choices you can make when talking to IRIS or with other people often lead to the same outcome too no matter what you say. Not to mention the “Type your own message” button that completely deceives you in thinking you can type anything you want. Disappointingly, it simply autocorrects everything you type to another limited text option. Type in “Bob” or “Sorry” or anything other than the 4 or 5 things it accepts and it simply changes them to “What?” or something similar that fits what who you are talking to just said.
Even the supposed ‘important’ choice I mentioned only really makes a few slight alterations to messages certain characters send you and both lead to the same “WTF?” but also “Well that was underwhelming.” ending. Sara is Missing’s ending isn’t some clever twist or mindfuck, it just feels like a “We couldn’t be bothered.”, cliche ending with not much thought, if any, put into it at all… and then it’s suddenly over. Not to give you a chance to think about all that has transpired or leave you in terror and shock but it simply closes the game down and opens up the games itch.io page.
I honestly don’t know why I expected so much from Sara is Missing. I know it is a free game but its sudden rush of popularity and the well-put-together itch.io page with the picture shown above possibly set my expectations a little too high. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a few cheap scares and a decent way to spend an hour(yes, it’s that short) then Sara is Missing won’t disappoint. But if you’re looking for a masterpiece like I was then you’d be better spending your time elsewhere.
- Unique concept
- Perfect presentation
- Acting and voice acting is good
- Incredibly short(1 hour)
- Blatantly stolen clips
- Stolen clips can kill the immersion
- Lack of real choice
- Horrible and disappointing ending
Get the game here: https://monsoonlab.itch.io/sim