I don’t normally review mobile games, but for something this unique, I’ll make an exception. I had seen Sara Is Missing only by chance after taking a glance at the Google Play Store. I had noticed this app under the name S.I.M, with an icon that looked kinda like a lens of sorts. I then noticed it was actually a game. So I took a look and then installed this free title.
Basically, what S.I.M does is it replicates a phone operating system (it looks a lot like iOS) and the on-board assistant, IRIS, informs you that she believes that her owner, Sara is in trouble. IRIS feels a lot like SIRI, only highly advanced, perhaps more akin to the computer from Star Trek. You and IRIS must work together to figure out what has happened to Sara, using videos, pictures, emails and text messages.
The game has genuine tension and does an expert job of convincing you that you are poking around in someone else’s life, digging around where you shouldn’t be. There’s something very creepy about that feeling, it also feels somewhat voyeuristic. S.I.M also feels very much in the vein of Black Mirror, with a broken and buggy AI attempting to fix itself, the disjointed messages showing the degradation of Sara’s mental health.
I thought S.I.M was going to be more of a cautionary tale of virtual personal assistants becoming too powerful or the story of people not being who you think they are and how chatting via text isn’t the same as actual physical communication. Sadly, that never pans out and S.I.M strays into cliché horror territory – it doesn’t make the game any worse and I don’t want to ruin the story, but I’d hoped it would remain more grounded.
It’s a fairly new game so there are a few bugs here and there but nothing that caused me any issue. The only one I found was I was meant to be receiving a text that never came, but ringing a fictional person from the phone book seemed to kick things off again. Despite a couple of negative points I’d still recommend everyone play S.I.M at least once. I admit there will be some that won’t like it, but it’s a unique and compelling experience and adventure game fans will lap it up, but this game could very much appeal to a much wider audience.
Sara is Missing is only a short experience and can be completed rather quickly, but it’s all about quality not quantity. As stated before the game is free, though developer Monsoon Lab welcome people to name their own price on their website.