If Found... Review — Everything's Okay
If Found... is a creative telling of a queer woman learning about herself and teaching others to accept her for who she is.
Indie, Visual Novel
Review copy provided by the publisher
If Found… is the latest release from popular artistic publisher Annapurna Interactive as well as the newest creation from Irish developer Dreamfeel. The game focuses on a young woman named Kasio as she travels to an unknown planet known simply as “Planet X,” where she discovers a black hole. After deciding to enter the black hole to so what awaits, If Found… takes you back to Kasio in her homestead, where she returns from school catching up with family and friends that are both old and new. The game is primarily told through her personal journal giving us the thoughts, feelings, and struggles she experiences during her time home, making for a compelling narrative that we rarely see in gaming.
Annapurna Interactive is known for publishing titles that give the player unique experiences that are hard to find anywhere else. If Found… separates itself into three different settings throughout its story including Kasio’s journal, her day to day interactions, and her time as an astronaut. While the latter portion of the story feels out of place for the majority of the time, the game juggles with a lot of important topics that aren’t often highlighted in the gaming space including being accepted for one’s sexuality and gender identity. If Found… helps by giving a new perspective to those who cannot directly relate to these kinds of experiences to better understand the daily issues that this demographic of people might go through.
“Every moment of the game presents a beautiful pencil-drawn art style that I couldn’t help be in awe at throughout my time playing.”
If Found… progresses through each motion of the story by erasing the screen using the cursor. Every moment of the game presents a beautiful pencil-drawn art style that I couldn’t help be in awe at throughout my time playing.
When reading through Kasio’s journal, you learn fun facts about the colorful cast of characters that she interacts with including their age, likes, dislikes, and more charming details. With developer Dreamfeel being an Irish studio, the main part of the story takes place in Ireland. Outside of some well-known facts about the country, there is a lot of information that someone would know who isn’t of Irish heritage whether it be phrases, holidays, or history. Taking place primarily in the 1990s, a major theme that is present throughout the majority of its story is homosexuality and how it is frowned upon, mostly due to how heavily the Catholic faith is still gripped in Irish society.
My favorite feature involves teaching you Irish vernacular for words that are more common in their culture. Each word when first introduced includes a logo which if pressed will give a detailed definition of the term. It is a great charm to make If Found… stand out as an Irish video game and is a description we hardly ever hear while teaching the player more about the country at the same time.
“The way Dreamfeel reveals this realization of Kasio is done subtly and tastefully so that anyone can see the reality she lives in.”
From the very beginning, I became invested in Kasio’s story which starts with her telling herself that she is quiet and weird and that is perfectly ok, something that I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. It wasn’t until later on, however, where I learned what that meant for her personally. I’d like to think that the way Dreamfeel reveals this realization of Kasio is done subtly and tastefully so that anyone can see the reality she lives in.
While cycling between the past and the present, the sections that focused on Kasio in space felt rather needless to what the past focuses on. She is studying astrophysics during that time, but those aren’t the fragments of her backstory that makes her character engaging. This portion of the story really picks up in the final act and while it does play with a few interesting factors, specifically with its presentation, If Found… kind of falls apart by honing in on the narrative segments that weren’t particularly interesting.
“If Found… features some of the most realistic, human characters, that I’ve experienced in recent memory.”
The game does wrap up nicely though, giving each player the opportunity to create their own version of Kasio making her personal story something we can all understand and learn from. It also gives players an epilogue to conclude the narratives of its side characters. This was something that particularly wasn’t necessary to do, but is a cool touch. That said, you have to replay through the chapter numerous times to find out the end of everyone’s stories.
Despite being a mere two-hour experience, If Found… has a lot of depth by portraying real-life issues that anyone can draw comparisons to within their own life, even if it may not be a direct contrast. While the main preface of what begins the story feels out of place, If Found… features some of the most realistic, human characters, that I’ve experienced in recent memory. Dreamfeel is an Irish studio that identifies itself as a developer that “centers queer experiences,” and If Found… is a great creation of what they want to represent.