Scrolling Through A Digital Mystery
Interactive storytelling comes in many forms, and Another Lost Phone: Laura’s Story is an inventive approach that takes inspiration from its predecessor, A Normal Lost Phone. This spiritual successor features an all-new story, where you search through a stranger’s phone to piece together an intriguing story, but it’s let down by uninspiring puzzles and characters that fall flat.
Another Lost Phone begins with you finding a lost phone and searching through its contents to unravel a story about its owner, Laura. You learn about her by reading through her texts with loved ones or coworkers, and by scrolling through her photo gallery. It makes for a voyeuristic experience where you get to know Laura and her social circles on an intimate level, which increased my empathy for her as well as my engagement with the narrative.
To piece together the story, you have to solve puzzles, which often involve decoding passcodes to access email accounts or other parts of her phone that store hidden messages. The problem with the puzzles is that they involve a lot of backtracking and memorization rather than intuition, and scrolling through already-read messages is more burdensome than fun. The few puzzles that grabbed me still required me to frequently jump from app to app, which wouldn’t have been an issue if the interface of the phone were less obtrusive. For example, searching for the GPS settings is more difficult than it should be.
Another Lost Phone’s biggest strength is its story, which focuses on the digital age, and how technology can be used against us. It’s also about relationships, and seeing how all this unfolds is best discovered yourself. The narrative is engaging, but because of how brief it is, the characters have little time to be fleshed out properly.
Despite this, memorable moments stick with me. Laura’s texts with her sister often include endearing interactions, such as her sister finding Laura’s long-forgotten childhood toy stored away in a box. Others express concern for Laura’s sudden withdrawal from social events and how she becomes less communicative over time. These are effective and engaging sequences, because we peek into Laura’s life, attempting to understand her struggle and how she relates to others in times of hardship.
Another Lost Phone’s voyeuristic mystery is worth playing, despite some missteps. Its subject matter is compelling, and is conveyed in inventive ways. I enjoyed learning about Laura, but I would have had a better time with more engaging puzzles and a more memorable cast.