16th Dec2019

‘Simulacra’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

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Whilst we’ve reviewed a number of Wales Interactive’s FMV releases, this is actually the first time I’ve played one of their games for myself. You see, I felt out of love with this particular sub-genre of video gaming some years ago and have only just got back into playing this style of game thanks to the Limited Run Games releases of Night Trap on the Nintendo Switch, and the re-release if the underrated “classic” Double Switch on the PS4. Both of those titles featured brilliant remasters of games from the 16-bit era, when FMV was delivered on cartridge and video compression was virtually unheard of. In the intervening years, despite huge leaps in technology, it seems the FMV genre was somehow left in the past for many.

But not for the folks at Wales Interactive… The spiritual successor to the viral found-phone horror game Sara Is Missing, Simulacra is the latest FMV game from the company who have carved out quite a reputation in the genre for being the home of current-gen FMV video gaming, releasing titles such as The Bunker, Late Shift, The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker and The Shapeshifting Detective.

The concept of the game is that you have found the lost phone of a woman named Anna. In it, you see a desperate cry for help in the form of a video message. The phone behaves strangely as you dive deeper into it. You talk to her friends and they have no idea where she is. Her texts, emails and photo gallery provides fragments of information. It’s up to you to piece it together… So you must recover lost files, piece back corrupted data, and retrace her final steps. And hopefully find her before it’s too late.

What have I been missing by not playing any of these modern FMV games? A hell of a lot if Simulacra is anything to go by! Damn, who knew playing a game that is essentially you trawling through someone’s buggy phone could be so compelling. So much so that a “quick five minutes” on this game can easily turn into a 3 or 4 hour session. And, in what I consider a sign of a great game, the game is so addictive that I’ve been playing it for hours each and every night without fail. Which, honestly, is VERY unusual for me.

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And why have I been playing this game for so long? Well that’s because there are multiple endings and multiple ways to reach those endings – which means there is a LOT of game here for your money and, honestly, no two play-throughs may be the same. Decision matter here and whilst the game will guide you to the eventual ending, it really does feel like it does depend entirely on your actions if and when you get through this compelling title.

There are some issues of course – the biggest for me being that there’s no way to play the game in vertical mode on the Switch. The “phone” in this game is situated in the centre of the screen and rotating into TATE mode does nothing to allow the phone’s screen to fill the screen of the Switch. On top of that some of the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired – especially of the male cast. However those are, at least for me, minor gripes in what is another brilliant FMV release from Wales Interactive.

If you’re a fan of FMV games, intriguing puzzle games – for this is very much a puzzle-style game – or mysteries (be it they game, book or movies) then Simulacra is an essential purchase. The game is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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