It’s what appears to be the end of the world, a black hole will soon devour Earth. At the same time, a young woman by the name of Kasio is returning to her small home off the coast of Ireland. In If Found… both of these moments are connected, and through its clever mechanic, it tells a captivating and at times surreal coming-of-age story with significant weight.
While seeing your parents for the first time after being away to complete a Master’s Degree is not as comically significant as a planet being stretched and compressed until it is no more, it can still be as explosive on a personal level. Kasio is coming home after a period of self-discovery. She has a better understanding of what her passions are and how she expresses herself. This new Kasio and her old-fashioned parents are going to collide, and on top of that it turns out that her professional aspirations are not going as planned. This moment of hardship will be another period of growth for Kasio, and If Found… allows players to uncover this honest and endearing story through a flick of the wrist or a touch from their finger.
In the game you will be going through Kasio’s diary entries over the last 28 days. This diary is filled with text entries and drawings, but you aren’t just simply flipping from page to page. Armed with an eraser, this journal acts like a magical canvas with seemingly endless hidden layers. As you erase what’s in front of you the game stylishly transitions into something new. Naturally steering that eraser from left to right with a mouse on PC, combined with the inventive ways If Found… finds to transition from section-to-section, feels magical. This works so well, and the only time this gets in the way is in the game’s final moments, where it flips the eraser mechanic on its head to make the game’s ending a bit more poignant. Without giving away too much, the game essentially changes the functionality of the eraser, and while I found the way those changes are implemented to be a bit clumsy, it doesn’t ruin its conclusion.
If Found… is not just confined to the manila colored pages of a diary and the grey sketches of a number two pencil, as it explodes with color at various stages to deliver moments that vary from the warm to the psychedelic. Seeing what visual surprise lay just around the corner kept me engaged and constantly impressed with developer Dreamfeel’s talent. Its soft pinks and moody blues are just wonderful.
Visually, If Found… stands out and demands your attention, but its excellent writing really makes it a touching, worthwhile experience. The coming-of-age genre is filled with many predictable narrative beats and character archetypes, this even extends beyond games. These stories can be comfort food, they can make us nostalgic for a time gone by while also not reinventing the mold. But then there are those stories that are specific, that are not just about the generalities we associate with youth. If Found… takes up the difficult task of telling the story of a specific young character who is going through a very dark and challenging time in her life, and at no point does it fall for the trap of fetishisizing those real life moments of dejection, self-doubt, and uncertainty. It’s done carefully and honestly. Because of that sincerity, while your life story may be different than Kasio’s, you can still connect with it on a genuine level.
If Found… is an abstract and cosmic adventure that still somehow feels grounded and real. Though my life may be different, this story did cause me to reflect on some of my most formative years. Its sketchbook art style combined with its bright colors is stunning, and its tale resonates. Kasio’s interactive story leaves quite the memorable impression.
This game was provided by a PR representative of the game and reviewed on PC.