Friday, December 13, 2019.
by Kirsten Naughton

SIMULACRA Box art I am a person that is a big fan of technology. Whether it's the newest cell phone or my newest interest, smartwatches, I find technology fascinating with regards to how it has grown over the past decade or so. I remember when we used to have big giant cell phones and our old school televisions. Nowadays, cell phones and televisions are high tech and much smaller. We now have Smart TV's and Smart phones. I have never played a game like Simulacra before, developed by Kaigan Games and Wales Interactive.

I didn't actually pay attention to the trailer before I began playing, and I almost regret not paying more attention to it. I'm not a horror video game fan, as I get very anxious and anxious when a jump scare happens or if there are sudden loud noises (fireworks excluded). Based on that sentence alone, I don't do well with horror themed anything generally. I won't dare step foot into a haunted house or watch the newest IT or Child's Play movie. I promise you, all of this banter will make sense when I get into the gameplay and such.

As you begin your journey into the world of Simulacra, you are presented with a small window that looks somewhat like a phone screen. You are bombarded with a bunch of messages from a series of applications. My first instinct was to try to figure out whose phone this belonged to. Was it mine? You learn early on this phone belongs to a girl named Anna. After a few steps of going through the prompts, you watch a very distressed video of a girl that you can somewhat make out. But, honestly that video alone made me a little nervous. I'm going to put this out there right now, Simulacra is not for the faint of heart. I would recommend this game for someone who doesn't get scared of sudden loud noises or jump scares. Yeah, that someone is not me. However, as it's my duty to review what lands in my lap, I did my deed and continued on.

You will go through a few apps on Anna's phone like Jabbr (Twitter), Spark (Tinder) and her Mailbox. You'll talk with Anna's boyfriend (I assume) and her best friend Ashley. You'll learn more and more about the Why's and How's as you talk to them. Greg and Ashley in text message will give you tasks like opening Anna's email, opening Jabbr, talking with dudes on Spark and such. I personally didn't really take too much interest in the back and forth, as I found it a little mundane. Thankfully, there were a couple puzzles in Simulacra that made gameplay a little more entertaining. There are two puzzles I came across; one where you had to recreate a sentence and the other recreating a corrupted picture. You'll see that corrupted pictures will help you with uncovering clues within the quests Greg and Ashley give you. The corrupted picture puzzles were hands down my favorite.

Horror genre aside, I feel like 'Anna' did a very good job acting in the video clips. It didn't look very staged and appeared pretty real which made my experience that more eerie and nerve wracking. The overall graphic style isn't much to look at though. It's pretty plain and bare bones, just as if you're staring at your iPhone, Android and other smart devices. It's not a deal breaker by any means, just keep that in mind that isn't not much to look at. As for the audio, there's not much there either. The audio in the video clips is good, so no real issues there. There are static noises that freak me out every once in a while though, purposely meant to scare you.

Honestly, as I'm not a huge horror fan, I know a decent game when I play one. I have played games like Five Nights at Freddy's, Friday the 13th, and Dead by Daylight, which are solid. Simulacra is just a different type of horror. The mere thought that your cell phone could be watching you or screwing with you is haunting to me. I feel like with all this technology comes a lot of potential issues, such as hackers and things just going awry.

Simulacra is one of those games that you don't expect to be a horror game, but when you start playing, it's extremely clear that something's not right, and even for someone who usually steers clear of anything horror, I still enjoyed it. Was it my cup of tea? No. Was it mind-blowing to the point that I was speechless? Again, no. But, that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it! Folks that like horror will find this game very interesting and potentially creepy. I now feel I need to clear my cache, browser history and hope whatever was in Anna's phone doesn't come to mine.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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