“Sara Is Missing was made by Malaysians?!” – everyone exclaims in surprise. It’s not often you hear news about Malaysian game developers, but ever since this mobile-based horror game made its premiere among popular Youtube gamers, the entire community has been abuzz with news about it.
But what makes this game so special to begin with? We’re taking a closer look at it today.
Sara Is Missing, or SIM for short, is the first title game from Monsoon Lab, a team of young indie game developers. The games makes you the main character, who is in possession of a phone belonging to a missing person named Sara. The aim is to figure out where she went, what she did and how she disappeared, with only the information in her phone to help you along.
From the moment the game begins, players are given free reign to rife through Sara’s personal messages, notes, emails, pictures, and videos in order to find information and progress the story. On one hand, it’s incredibly compelling to piece together this person’s personality just from reading their private information. On the other hand, it just feels so wrong.
It’s hard not to play the game without feeling an air of dread hang over you constantly, like someone is about to catch you and get you into trouble. (Or have a jumpscare catch you off guard.) And yet, it is that same adrenaline that keeps players wanting to play this game. This effect was exactly what Monsoon Lab had intended.
In their words, they wanted to explore “the voyeuristic pleasure that one gets from prying through another person’s personal items.” And as result, they worked hard to simulate the experience by making SIM as realistic as possible.
As shown below, the game runs and operates like a typical iPhone would; mimicking most things, from the operating system to app layouts and notifications. They have received many praises for their thorough design of the interface, down to the fine details of allowing the player to receive phone calls, videos and images, and even chat with different people at the same time.
Still, its most memorable – and creepy – feature must go to the phone’s very own AI named IRIS (which, let’s face it, is basically Siri spelled backwards.) IRIS is there to help the player solve the mystery… if it weren’t such a mystery itself.
As one of the most present characters in the entire game, IRIS plays a huge part in manipulating the player’s emotions. Sometimes it acts as the helper, and at other times, the antagonist. Seriously, what is the truth???
In fact, that uncertainty is what makes the game as horrifying as it is. You will always feel like the third party, imposing on another person’s privacy. You don’t know the friends whose texts you’re reading, nor the foes that Sara and you may be facing. You are clueless, so you rely on instinct, and the game knows that.
While IRIS feeds you dodgy statements on one side, and the phone glitches out on the other, players can only wonder: “Who can I really trust?!” And as terrifying as it is kind of cliche, the answer is No One.
I’ve been nothing but positive so far, but that’s not to say the game doesn’t have its flaws. Many have voiced out complaints about the limited dialogue options and unsatisfactory endings. However, I don’t want to focus on that as the game is still under development.
Despite that, it has already earned almost a million downloads on the Google Play Store, 16.9k downloads on Game Jolt, and I can’t even find out how many downloads on Itch.io, which is the developer’s main publishing platform. Chances are, it’s a lot.
Based on the positive response so far, I don’t think SIM is going anywhere but up. I look forward to further expansion of the game, and perhaps, we’ll take a second look at it next time! Maybe even a playthrough?
Until then, the game is free to download (or name your own price) on all the following sites, so why not check it out yourself?
I highly recommend playing it on mobile to enhance your experience of the game!
For more updates, follow Monsoon Lab on Twitter