Whenever I make a review, I always try my best to make it as informal as possible. I do not believe that any reviewer can be 100% objective, since then you might as well just read the manual or the back of the game-case, but I always try to give a good insight whenever I talk about a title. I never try to be controversial or come off as mean-spirited for the sake of it whenever I express my opinion. It is simply just that: my opinion. The reason I state this is, of course, due to the title of this review.
Laura’s Story takes on a touchy subject where I will admit, I might not be the best person to discuss this topic. Despite having been in bad relationships and witnessed unfairness at first hand, that does not mean my experience can be comparable to hers. Because of this, the focus will be (similar to my review of other titles like A Normal Lost Phone and Newfound Courage) on how this theming is conveyed to the general audience. It is not meant to talk down the importance or the ability to share difficult topics like this, since they need to be able to come forth. This should go without saying, but I believe it is important to be clear on this due to the story’s context. With that said, lets see what Laura has to tell us.
The need to breathe and talk
Similar to the previous title, Another Lost Phone turns your device into someone else’s phone where your goal is to find out who the owner is and how to contact them. You will do so by reading SMS, researching notes, and figure out how to get further and further into who Laura is and what happened to her. It is hard to go further with an introduction and not spoil everything, as Laura’s Story really revolves around her problematic life.
It is a harsh life she lives with doubts, harassment, and manipulation, making her reactions and discussions quite tough to read. Accidental Queens nailed at making this story feel legit with believable progression, thoughts, reactions, and conversations that clearly show the emotions the characters are going through. The title of this game is “Laura’s Story”, where the theme of losing yourself to manipulation and low self-esteem is a major part of this. I apologize for this vague intro, but I try my best to not give spoilers, as this is a short title and a worthwhile experience that will let you see these problems first hand and feel with the character, which is important.
However, this is where a couple of problems come forth. You will get to know Laura’s struggles, but little else about her as a character. She definitely had a life with friends, family, and coworkers before the unfortunate events, but these parts of her life are not presented at all. We are only focused on the aftermath of a specific period, despite that there are conversations dating back before this. This is definitely problematic when you are utilizing a phone and messages to piece together clues on what relations each character had and what happened. This makes the experience too narrow and minimal for Laura to become memorable, and will make you easily see what the plot revolves around.
Because of this, the message sadly becomes hammered in, as it portrays more about her misery and aftermath, with only minor elements of the transition. She clearly has had an interesting life, but it is barely touched upon. This does not change that the theming and the story surrounding it is important and will make an impression. It is rather a good story about a theme any decent person will agree is important, rather than a story that will give you more insight into these issues. Laura might not be memorable, but her struggle will be.
Story Score: 7/10
Snooping and puzzling
With Another Lost Phone, your device is turned into a phone where you will have to look for clues in order to solve puzzles and piece together the information you find. A form of point and touch, if you will. It is still a strong way to get immersed, especially if you use an actual phone for this game, with a well-implemented and clean interface. The puzzles are also logical for using the phone to check notes and finding subtle clues scattered around for what could be a password. However, while the puzzles are fun, there are only a couple and one requires you to find out who a couple of pictures represent. This is randomized each time and, while this is an interesting idea, it also feels like a forced way to make you read uninteresting conversations, instead of them being tied-in with the story. A set of pen and paper could come in handy here.
Another Lost Phone makes for an immersive way of conducting research to find the phone’s owner, as you will go through apps, messengers, mails, and more to find out how to go deeper. However, while I did enjoy the ideas behind the puzzles, as they are light and still require some research, the game is severely short and easy to beat with only the picture-puzzle tripping me up. It then ends on an odd ending that breaks the immersion with almost a monologue for the ending, lessening the experience. It feels more like a proof of concept than a full-fledged title. At least, a good proof of concept.
Gameplay Score: 6/10
Authentic and inviting
As an interesting shift from A Normal Lost Phone, the sequel takes on a realistic look with a clean interface and character-portraits that are more serious than playful. It certainly makes it feel authentic with clear sound effects, settings, and animations. Sadly, it also lacks any form of personality. There are no background-pictures, no intriguing visual design, or anything memorable. It is more like Ikea furniture that got some accidental colors on it. It makes it feel real and fits the owner of this phone’s style, but it does lack any artistic vibe to it. Though the character-models are lovely drawn and I do enjoy how simple the interface is, with even pulsating icons added in for whenever you touch one.
The music is an interesting and bizarre combination of jazz, chill rock, and chill-step. It definitely reflects the character’s need to feel at ease, with subtle lyrics to make the theming come forth, and it is a nice soundtrack that has enough variety to make itself impactful. Really, Another Lost Phone is as great as it looks and makes the immersion of this being a phone, even stronger. It is just that it does so at the cost of intriguing and memorable art. I do believe a good combination of art and tech could have been made here.
Presentation Score: 8/10
Laura’s Story is definitely an important one to be told and one I feel is valid for a purchase on the app store. However, it is more of an experience for newcomers who wants to get into point and clicks, rather than a good game taking an interesting turn for storytelling. It is easy to get through and is more direct with its premise, but has enough substance to make your time feel well spent. I will say I think A Normal Lost Phone is a much stronger presentation of the ideas implemented here, but this is definitely another story worth checking out at least once.