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If Found... review: Interactive fiction takes you on a voyage of discovery

(PC/Mac/iOS) ★★★★ Age: 15+

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If Found...

If Found...

Snowrunner

Snowrunner

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If Found...

Ideally, If Found... deserves a home in a new section of this website somewhere between TV and books. It's not a game in the conventional sense but rather a remarkable piece of Irish-made interactive fiction, gorgeously illustrated and animated.

It sensitively tells the story of young trans woman Kasio, trying to find her place in life amid bafflement and hostility from her family, without resorting to the usual tropes that often define LGBTQ struggle. But, almost as importantly, Dublin studio Dreamfeel frames the narrative with a refreshingly clever structure in which the reader/player erases the foreground illustration to reach the next fragment of story in Kasio's diary.

The journey takes her from the cosmopolitan world of university Dublin to the suffocating small-town life of her childhood home on Achill. Though resolutely linear and demanding nothing of the reader other than their attention, If Found… nonetheless manages to be immersive and engrossing. The delicate soundtrack and those hand-drawn visuals never grow tiring.

It may falter towards the close in trying to let the reader rewrite the story, and the parallel, intersecting thread of an astronaut in space doesn't fully convince. But If Found… is a brave and exciting work. Little wonder it's published by arthouse LA agency Annapurna, home of several other indie classics.


Read more: How Dublin studio Dreamfeel made If Found...


Snowrunner

(PS4/XO/PC) ★★★ Age: 3+

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Snowrunner

Snowrunner

Snowrunner

Sales figures ably demonstrate there's a thriving market for Ronseal-like titles such as Farming Simulator, Train Simulator and, um, Ski Region Simulator. Generally uncompetitive and slow-paced, they deliver a methodically calming helping of vehicular tinkering. Snowrunner might just as prosaically been dubbed 'Haulage Simulator' for its recipe of trucks, cargo and challenging terrain.

Your garage of ponderous big rigs and slightly more nimble cars need to be driven and winched through snow and muck to offload loads of lumber and so on at distant destinations. It's challenging - often requiring other vehicles to assist stuck trucks - and even frustrating (chiefly because of the controls). But it has a soothing undercurrent that reminds me of days building model train sets or completing a 1,000-piece jigsaw.

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