Horror games are big business right now and thanks to the success of Resident Evil 7, there’s now plenty of renewed interest in getting scared. Yet despite the obvious links, we’ve yet to see a true breakout in the world of mobile horror titles. The idea of taking a horror experience on the go is an appealing on though, and increasingly developers are pushing the boundaries in this area. This time round we’re looking Sara is Missing. Will it scare us or leave us drop dead bored?
Sara is Missing is a game for PC and various mobile operating systems (You can actually pay what you want for the title here) . This is a horror/adventure title that focuses locating Sara after she goes missing mysteriously. The player’s only lead is her mobile phone, which is where the crux of the game is based around. The game is all about choices the player is able to make in order to progress and find Sara – uncovering the clues to get to the next part.
The game starts with the player finding the phone and speaking to Iris, the artificial intelligence within the phone. It seems a bit too human-like, as if it knows a bit too much and it too aware of the situation. As the game progresses, the player is able to go through Sara’s gallery, emails, texts, and other parts of the phone to piece together clues of the story while attempting to locate her.
After a while of playing, the game gets creepier and more of the story is brought together when reading her texts and speaking to her friends. In the end, the player has a life-changing decision to make when discovering who took Sara. This game forces the player to be inquisitive and ask questions – even if the game is pushing back to resist you. It’s a smart design choice and creates a huge air of mystery in the title – asking the player be on their toes and to expect the unexpected.
A unique factor to this game is the realism surrounding it. The pictures on the phone are of real people, which takes this game to the next level and makes it more believable. The photographs on the phone capture the emotions and events that Sara and her friends have been through and takes this game even further on an emotional level. The phone is very realistic as well, making it easier to relate to and understand. It creates character without us ever really meeting Sara – an impressive feat.
It also manages to largely resist the temptation of jump scares. While there are a few moments of shock, the game plays things fast and straight, enticing you to create shocking connections rather than forcing them into your face.
Unfortunately the game requires you to take a few leaps of logic when it comes to the story it’s telling. While the tension built up is palpable, the ever presence of an AI almost ruins the entire feeling of realism that the game strives for. Artificial intelligence on mobile phones has not been progressed to the level where the phone could detect strange behaviour from the user and know if the user was missing. It’s a creative choice I suspect may prove too jarring for some of the games players.
Overall, Sara is Missing is a game with many factors that make it intriguing and enticing to play. It has the realism and the way of being relatable to the player combined with the future technology of artificial intelligence that makes it a unique combination. This is a game worth experiencing and trying for yourself if you are looking for suspense, mystery, and horror.