What begins as a simple quest to return a phone to its owner quickly spirals into an eerily personal and invasive mystery in Another Lost Phone: Laura’s Story.
Developer: Accidental Queens
Platforms: Android (Version reviewed), iOS, PC, Mac, Linux
Release Date: September 21, 2017
A phone lies on the ground, forgotten. It’s unlocked. No one can fault you for opening it up and checking the contacts, in hopes of finding someone to return it to. But almost immediately, a series of disconcerting text messages catch your eye, calling into question whether or not you should try to contact any of these “friends” at all. Another Lost Phone: Laura’s Story plays with your expectations by offering an eerily realistic glimpse into the life of a young woman through what was left on her lost phone. But the further you delve, the more you realize that Laura, a person any of us could easily know, has a world of deeply troubling secrets.
Warning: This review will delve into very light spoilers surrounding the themes and gameplay, but will stay away from major puzzle solutions, reveals, or plot points.
This is indeed “Another Lost Phone,” as it’s a sequel to Accidental Queens’ A Normal Lost Phone, which followed a similar premise. You don’t need to have played one to understand the other, though, as the stories are completely separate. But like its predecessor, Laura’s Story offers the player essentially the interface of a phone with little exposition or guidance. You have found this; now use whatever you can find to get it back where it belongs.
So off you’ll go into the text messages, emails, photos, and apps. Accidental Queens has created a careful balance of both making the phone easy to navigate and only offering what is necessary, while simultaneously keeping things busy enough to look like someone’s actual phone. You’ll find work emails, pictures of food, invites to hang out with friends, and plenty of hidden information locked behind passwords.
That’s where the puzzle aspect of Laura’s Story comes in; without a sim card, you can’t call or text anyone. You’ll need to use the phone’s other apps and connect to wi-fi (in-game, of course, not for real) to unravel the puzzle. But the minute you think you’ve found a way to get the phone where it’s going, details begin to manifest indicating that the phone’s owner may have been in some kind of trouble. As you continue toward an obvious early goal that will alert someone close to the phone’s owner, it becomes less and less clear as to whether or not that’s something you even want to do.
Laura’s Story is an uncomfortably familiar tale, told from the inside. I don’t want to give away the details, but suffice to say it drives home some hard-hitting points about recognizing warning signs both in your own relationships and in those close to you. In order to progress, you have to comb through everything–even the most mundane of text conversations, work emails, and pictures. Yet, the deeper you dive, the clearer it becomes that much of what you thought was ordinary was far more troubling than you realized initially.
The steadily ticking down battery life and the subtle but uncomfortable feeling of going through someone else’s personal belongings may keep you from exploring as thoroughly as you might otherwise, but even if you do, the level of detail is impressive. Even “throwaway” conversations can tell you something about the characters and structure of Laura’s life, as well as your own pre-conceived notions about the types of relationships she has. This is true right down to the order and placement of texts–the “latest” text, as it shows up when you first open her phone, provokes certain emotions about the characters that sent them. Later, you’ll uncover just how wrong, or right, your instincts were.
My one disappointment in Another Lost Phone was its length…or lack thereof. And yet, its brevity (1-2 hours) isn’t necessarily something I think Accidental Queens needed to change. By the end of the session, you know everything you need to know about Laura, and I can’t imagine any lengthening of the journey that wouldn’t feel forced. Though you should definitely play it on mobile for the full effect of exploring an actual phone, this isn’t the kind of game you keep in your pocket and break out for brief bursts of play. Settle back, turn the music on (Do it! The songs and their integration as a music app are incredible, mood-setting, and mellow), and finish Laura’s Story in one sitting.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.