‘If Found…’ Review – Hand Can Erase

TouchArcade Rating:

Annapurna Interactive has consistently been releasing superb experiences on not just iOS but also other platforms over the years. When they announced that If Found… ($4.99) from Dreamfeel would now be published under them, I was intrigued. If Found… has been in the works for a few years now as an interactive visual novel with gorgeous visuals. It finally arrived last week on iOS and PC platforms and it is a perfect fit not only to iOS but also Annapurna Interactive’s portfolio for a variety of reasons.

The way you interact with everything and progress the story in If Found… is erasing. Since a diary plays a huge part of the story, you experience Kasio’s story through her diary as you go into the depths and erase what you see. On paper (no pun intended), this interaction method would probably get old quick but the developers have tried to keep things fresh by making you do it differently as time progresses. There’s also the fact that the eraser slowly changes over time. Barring these, there are moments of the usual tapping to progress dialogue as well.

If Found… blends in a few narrative threads together and constantly throws you from one to the other while relaying its story to you. The way If Found… throws you between Kasio’s life as she experiences various things and meets more people, and the space exploration element is confusing at first but things eventually make sense. The story in If Found… is all about identity, acceptance, loss, and coming of age.

You experience Kasio’s ups and downs over a month as she goes to a concert, moves in with new people, meets old friends, and interacts with her family all through ramblings and scribbles in her diary. Some of the story beats hit hard as well but the overall tone manages to remain mature even when its showcasing the most basic things. Seeing people’s behaviour change in a short time is also showcased very well here.

While the story itself and the payoff are both amazing (barring one thing), the aspect that really stood out to me was how well the developers brought in various bits of Irish culture. There are various phrases sprinkled across dialogue and bits of the land showcased in the gorgeous art style. All of this comes together brilliantly to make the experience feel even more comfortable and homely despite how grim some things may appear as Kasio’s story progresses.

Ever since I saw the first trailer, If Found… has always looked gorgeous. The combination of a hand drawn aesthetic with excellent animations across the story make this a memorable experience. The use of colours as time passes in key moments is also brilliantly executed. If you’re on an older iOS device, just expect some transitions to not be as smooth as they should be. Everything else scales well.

I was already expecting a great soundtrack since 2 Mello (Read Only Memories) was involved but what I didn’t expect was one of the best blends of original and licensed music since the original Life is Strange. 2 Mello and Eli Rainsberry (Wilmot’s Warehouse) are a killer combination and I hope they work together on more music in the future. “Breakfast in the Squat” and “Before You’re Ready at All” are standout tracks in the soundtrack.

There are two aspects of the experience I feel could’ve been done better. The first is in how the game has been brought to iOS. I played If Found… on both iPad Air 2 and iPhone 11 and the core interactions feel perfect. There are some issues in overlays where the overlay seems to think the iPhone 11 is a smaller screen device. One other issue is that I often found myself swiping into multitasking while trying to erase things. Barring these issues, the iOS version of If Found… feels like the best way to play it.

The second is in the way the two big narrative threads intertwine. Without getting into spoilers, I feel like the ending could’ve been a bit better fleshed out. It is a great conclusion but the ending feels a bit rushed compared to how the plot was progressing in the latter half of the game.

If Found… is yet another winner from Annapurna Interactive. Dreamfeel’s story is important, touching, and brilliant. If you enjoy interactive visual novels with excellent stories, great music, and gorgeous visuals, If Found… is for you. It doesn’t overstay its welcome like many visual novels and the two to three hours you put in will just fly by. I can’t wait to see what Dreamfeel does next because this is top notch stuff. If Found… is now available on the App Store for iOS for $4.99.