Review – If Found…

Annapurna Interactive loves to publish little indie darlings of all shapes and sizes. It’s one of the reasons I have so much admiration for them. With titles like Telling Lies, Gorogoa, Outer Wilds, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Ashen, there’s something for everyone in their catalog as no two games are alike. Not every title is a masterpiece, but you can’t deny that they go out of their way to allow small studios express themselves freely through their art. If Found… from the developer DREAMFEEL, is yet another example of just how diverse their portfolio is.

If Found… centers around a transgendered woman named Kaiso. She is an astronaut searching for a way to stop a cataclysmic event that will destroy the world. As she searches for the moment the event started and how to prevent it, she reminisces about her early years and how she came to terms with who she truly is as a person.

If Found...

She constantly battles with feeling like everything around her is falling apart.

If it sounds like an odd change in tone from the space side of the game to the coming out tale of a young transgender woman, you’re not wrong. If Found… primarily focuses on the the latter aspect of the game. It’s almost exclusively following Kaiso through her journey of self discovery through her diary entries. The small parts in space seem to have almost nothing to do with any of the rest of the narrative. It seems like it was just another idea that was tacked on to the actual concept of the game.

This is a visual novel style of game and being such, there is barely any actual gameplay. However, instead of simply clicking the button to turn the page and occasionally making some choices along the way to personalize your playthrough, If Found… does something different. The cursor is actually a giant eraser and you’ll have to erase every single page in her diary after you’ve read it in order to progress to the next one. It’s a cool concept at first, as drives home the symbolic act of erasing your past to rewrite your future.

If Found...

This is about what 90% of the game is.

The only problem is that this feature quickly becomes tedious after the first few pages. I highly recommend adjusting your eraser size to be as large as possible to save you from wrist fatigue from two hours of waving your mouse back and forth. Not only that, but this is the only gameplay gimmick in the entire game. There are no choices to make that might impact the outcome of the game, no branching paths, no real interaction of any kind aside from erasing everything. At the very end the eraser changes to a pencil for three or so pages, but it’s honestly just the same schtick.

The art style is almost exclusively hand-drawn, as you’re suppose to be reading through Kaiso’s diary. The images are pretty well done throughout, but the majority of what you’ll be looking at is her handwriting. Once again, it’s almost all reading her diary. There are some clever uses of psychedelic colors and patterns when she’s in space, but they’re few and far between. Even those you’ll have to erase to move on.

If Found...

I wish there was more of the space side of the game.

There’s no voice acting or even any sounds effects. The sound design is comprised entirely of its soundtrack. The soundtrack is by far one of the strongest points of the game. Each song perfectly fits the tone of the current scene, ranging from melancholy to beautifully ambient. There is a lot of weight being lifted in this department as it’s responsible for creating the appropriate mood for each section. Luckily, most of it is helmed expertly, while there are a few tracks that are a bit bland and forgettable.

I appreciate the bravery of DREAMFEEL for releasing such a personal game about a topic that not a lot of people understand. I only wish it were delivered in a more captivating way. The symbolism is great, but without any other facets of gameplay or ways in which to deliver the narrative, it loses its potency before too long. It has a strong and powerful message, and one that I feel many within the community would benefit from experiencing, just don’t expect anything groundbreaking as an actual game.


Graphics: 7.0

The hand drawn images are pretty good and there is some clever use of psychedelic colors and patterns to represent spacial events.

Gameplay: 2.0

The only thing you can do is erase every single screen you see after you read it. The symbolism loses its appeal after the first few screens.

Sound: 7.0

There’s no voice acting, but the soundtrack is fairly decent and fits the somber tone of the game well.

Fun Factor: 3.0

While the message of letting go of your past and accepting yourself for who you are is a great one, the delivery leaves a lot to be desired.

Final Verdict: 4.0

If Found… is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of If Found… was provided by the publisher.