SIMULACRA by Kaigan Games
Some of the best horror narratives know just how to play with our deepest fears. Well, there’s now a game for the fears of the 21st century. If you’re someone who finds themselves worried about things like surveillance, the collection of data, and artificial intelligence, then get ready for your paranoia to be off the charts.
Is Anybody There?
SIMULACRA comes courtesy of small Malaysian developer Kaigan Games and is strongly reminiscent of FMV games like Her Story.
Playing as a nameless person who has discovered the abandoned phone of a young woman named Anna, your goal is to unravel the mystery of what exactly has happened to her. To do so, you’ll have to use every tool available to you through Anna’s phone.
You’ll read her texts, comb through her photos, and communicate with several people in her life, all while remaining constantly on edge as you try to figure out who you can trust.
To go any further into the plot of the game would be to approach spoiler territory, and for the sake of the experience, I’m not going to do that. Simply put, the game does an excellent job of drawing you into the world it creates through a combination of live-action video and pre-recorded audio, all of which features solid performances from the actors involved. Even the text-based conversations are well-written and make you legitimately feel like you’re interacting with real people.
Humanity Has Underestimated the Consequences of Computerization
Every element of SIMULACRA seems wholly designed to make you feel as uncomfortable as possible. The very premise of having to dig through the personal life of a person you don’t know will be enough to set most people on edge, and that’s just the beginning.
Thanks to several moments where the game breaks the fourth wall, you’ll spend the entire experience feeling like you’re being watched. It does a great job of getting under your skin. W
hile I found the game occasionally relied a tad too much on jump scares, it often earned them through its tense atmosphere.
What’s also impressive is how many of the game’s puzzles test your comprehension and detective skills. This is the only game this year aside from Baba Is You to make me reach for a pen and paper so I could jot down information. There are even some neat Easter eggs to be found if you look hard enough.
It Found a Voice…Now It Needs a Body
SIMULACRA is a short but sweet experience that will make you hungrily advance the story while constantly leaving you unsure of if you truly want to know where it goes.
It features multiple endings to obtain, with the “best” one requiring you to keep to some very strict objectives. I could see the game wearing a bit thin with multiple repeated plays in a row, so breaks between attempts at the different endings may not be a bad idea.
Ultimately, the game succeeds at providing an immersive and chilling experience, and I guarantee you’ll never look at your smartphone the same way again after playing it.
SIMULACRA is available via the Nintendo Game Store, Sony PlayStation Store, Xbox Live, Apple Store, Google Play Store, Steam and GOG.com
Watch the official trailer for SIMULACRA below: