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If Found...

Developer: DREAMFEEL Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
19 May 2020
If Found... - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.77 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
109 Ratings / 2 Reviews
#478 All-time
#16 for 2020
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Title
Before You're Ready At All
There's a sort of romanticizing of the past that's extremely pervasive throughout the United States. Our media is referential and nostalgia reigns supreme, with glamorizing of the past being pervasive in our government and our society. Not everyone gets to have a good past, though, especially trans people, and even more especially, Kasio.

It's a harsh, depressing reality for many trans people that our pasts are awful. If we're out, society treats us like garbage, and it we remain closeted, we end up living a false life with walls built as strong as possible in an attempt to survive. Society is actively regressing for us and it was even worse in 1993. That Kasio came home as herself to Achill, where she almost certainly knew that her family would be awful to her, was incredible.

Queer solidarity is oftentimes the only way we survive. When cishet society shuns us and scorns us, we have to turn to each other. It's extremely accurate and relatable that Kasio spends all her time with Jack, Colum, and Shans, people like her who are queer. Without them, she has literally no one in Achill that she can exist with. It makes the eventual falling out she has with the Bandshee members even more depressing. The band was her found family and she felt like she destroyed that family. Given how the band members reacted to her after the night she had with Shans, it's sadly understandable why she thought that.

One of many things that I love about If Found... was having Kasio be ace. It's rare to see ace characters represented in media and it was a nice and completely understandable aspect of her personality. It was also great to see her reaction to Shans being 19. Despite having presumably only lived as Kasio for around five years, she had to mature quickly to handle all the shit society threw at her. Not wanting to be with a teenager she had just met earlier that month, while awful for Shans, was the best thing she could've done. How they reacted showed their immaturity and general desperation to get away from Achill and be their true self.

The amount of self-hatred a lot of us not-cis people feel is overwhelming. It makes sense in a very depressing way that Shans would tell Kasio that she was essentially a freak. They were suffering under the weight of their family's expectations of them and they sadly took that suffering out on the person that didn't deserve it the most. The band let her down when she needed it most. They turned her into a Yoko Ono, but at least she had John Lennon. Kasio had nothing and no one. It's no wonder she almost died alone in the squat, trying to hide from everyone in her life.

The writing was on the wall way before that line from Shans. It became inevitable that she would destroy her past, literally and figuratively, as referenced in the game's mechanic of erasing the events of her life that month. Maybe if she got rid of the previous 23 years of her life, she would be able to start anew with her family only knowing Kasio and not the fake pre-transition self she was forced to live, like she did with the band.

The burning of Kasio's notebook in a desperate attempt to survive by any means necessary is a step that many trans people had to take in the 20th century. Get rid of all your possessions, your relationships with your family and friends, and upend your life to move to a new city where you live stealth, with no one ever knowing that you're trans. The worst part is, she burned the book and nothing changed for her. That she was eventually rescued by her family and friends had nothing to do with the burning. She burned it for nothing.

I am very relieved that this game ended on a positive note. Having people accept her and support her was really touching because at the end of the day, it's what nearly every trans person wants. To be loved and accepted as we truly are by the people in our lives. If it had ended with Kasio dying alone in the squat, I wouldn't be recommending it to anyone. I wouldn't have given this my only 10/10. I wouldn't have changed my name to Cassiopeia. There are far too many stories about trans people where we suffer repeatedly and don't get a happy ending. I am so happy that Dreamfeel didn't go this route.

The space subplot, to me, is a beautiful metaphor of Cassiopeia's past as Kasio. Jetting across the cosmos on a journey to stop the destruction of everything she knows makes perfect sense as being an allegory for her past when she just realized that she was trans, that she was Kasio.

I believe that with the anomaly being pinpointed to her home in Achill, the planet wasn't about to be destroyed by it, but her world was. Knowing that she is a woman changed everything for her and it is completely understandable that she thought that her world was collapsing, especially if she were to tell anyone else about this. Given that she never told her family until she was 23, years after starting college, and that it almost destroyed her, it's an apt metaphor.

I'm still torn on who the accountant McHugh is supposed to represent. My current self wants to say that it's perhaps Cassiopeia's persona if she had never transitioned. This "guy", stuck at a dead-end accountant job but still very much interested in space, helping Cassiopeia reach her younger self because "he" wants to not make the mistake of hiding who "he" is from everyone and repressing any trans-related thoughts. It also makes sense that any space agency like NASA or Roscosmos or the ESA didn't pick up on Cassiopeia arriving in Ireland, but only McHugh did. It's her metaphorical journey to her past.

Cassiopeia was on a journey to find Brid McHugh's little artist and tell her that she could be a woman too, and McHugh was there to make sure "he" got a happy life as the woman "he" should've been decades earlier. Cassiopeia and McHugh surviving the anomaly and living through the strange phenomena occurring was, to me, indicative of the multiverse theory. They changed Kasio's past and helped her realize that she was trans, but they were still the same people they were before.

The diverging of the timeline at the end of the VN, from Kasio's life up to 2016 and then Cassiopeia's life post-anomaly was a rather interesting choice I wasn't expecting. It makes me think a lot about how real the anomaly was to people besides Kasio. To me, it's like everything that happened in that separate post-anomaly timeline at the end of the game was Cassiopeia's way of trying to reconcile her past with the people still left in her life that she didn't have authentic relationships as herself with.

From an art perspective, If Found... is simply the most beautiful game I've ever played. Getting to see the hand-drawn sketches of each scene and the characters interacting was wonderful. I love the background effects during the scenes where there would be multiple tiled pieces moving in the background. The concept of erasing to advance the game was a fantastic choice. The colors are so vibrant and eye-popping and really pulls me into the game, something that I love in VNs.

From a music perspective, I am in love with the soundtrack. There's not a single weak track in it and it only gets better as the game progresses. 2 Mello did a bang-up job with his part, Eli Rainsberry's ambient/drone tracks are nice, and the inclusion of Threat, Operating Theatre, and Ensemble Eriu was perfect. Additionally, the new credits song with Loah's beautiful vocals is incredible.

This is the only game I have ever given a 10 and I believe that won't happen again for a while. You should play it now. I may be biased since I changed my name to Cassiopeia, but that just shows the impact it's had on me.

10/10
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cassisarobot 2020-07-01T04:05:50Z
2020-07-01T04:05:50Z
5.0
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If Found... is a visual novel with two interweaving plots. One story features Kasio, a trans person who visits her hometown; the other story features Cassiopeia, an astronaut investigating an "anomaly event" in outer space which threatens Earth. The two stories intertwines, but they aren't very related asides from a minor bit at the end. The two stories are quite different in tone, and at times conflict with each other (especially at the end, where Kasio is hiding inside the house, and Cassiopeia shifts her investigation into Ireland.), which can be either disorienting or confusing.

The game is supposed to convey emotions of delicate sensibilities, but this is greatly hindered by the poor pacing due to the screen erasure mechanic, where one needs to use the pointer to erase content on screen to progress. This ruins the feel for the delicate scenes, and can make the progression of the plot into a chore. This game mechanic seems to be justified as a sort of "diary erasure" due to Kasio, in thematic synchrony to the black hole devouring which Cassiopeia tries to prevent, but the execution of this idea feels off: erasure as a plot element in itself seems to be contradictory to the usage of it as a game mechanic to progress the plot.

Finally, the plot itself is rather inconsequential, though some passing moments were rather pretty. None of the characters were particularly well explored, and their interactions felt shallow, although sincere. The conflict between Kasio and her mother which kicks the central narrative was hastily resolved, as she was given no screen time from during the second conflict to the end to explain her change in character. Cassiopeia's plot thread also turns out to be irrelevant, since we are given no reason to justify why Kasio is related to the black hole, and elements from her plot remains to be explained. Some parts with her friends were pretty, but these moments were rare, and didn't fully occupy the game.

If Found... is a game that attempts to deliver a delicate story, but the short runtime, shallow portrayal, and confusing plotlines detracted from the enjoyability of the game. Though some nice moments are to be had (such as the house party), the game did not feel particularly memorable, and thus I do not recommend the game.
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alalal42 2023-11-11T09:43:23Z
2023-11-11T09:43:23Z
2.0
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Almost 10/10
So beautiful, so moving, so desperately sad.

This game was so well written and designed. It was also basically free therapy. Even without relating directly to the main story/character, there were moments where it surfaced some really pushed down thoughts and feelings for me. The themes of lost and then found family in particular.

The main reason this isn't quite a top game for me, is because I dont think I could bring myself to play it again, I can't go through that a 2nd time.

Also, the sound track is phenomenal.
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iamcat101 2023-01-11T19:46:34Z
2023-01-11T19:46:34Z
4.5
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Must play for any visual novel fans
I'm probably biased as a trans person who can relate to a lot of aspects this game covers. Regardless this is a beautiful audio-visual treat that has a very emotionally driven story that all should enjoy. It's short, each concept it introduces never overstays its welcome and this allows the story to have a very good momentum to it. 10/10
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I've heard this story before, but I haven't lived it; not just the trans experience, but also these kinds of economic, social, or family circumstances. So despite how generic parts of this story feel, I'm not in a place to be too critical because I was never going to be the one to feel it anyway. I will say, though, that the erasing mechanic only seemed to work on an abstract level and not a visceral one. CJ Andriesson said in their Destructoid review that they found the mechanic powerful because they were erasing Kasio's past - good and bad - and acknowledging that it couldn't be changed. I understand how that makes sense (and the shift to the pencil at the end of the game), but for me, actually doing the action didn't seem to evoke that; in fact, for large chunks of the game it felt no different than simply flipping the page, or clicking through a dialogue box (which itself is an act of erasure!). Still; I don't know that the game really needed a great mechanic when a lot of the game's appeal lies in the shifting visuals anyway.

Aside from some obvious markers - the visuals, the detailed Irish setting, the music (which is woefully generic in some sections and surprisingly powerful in others) - there are a few moments I really liked that I think are worth highlighting:

1. Kasio's outbreak when Shans reads too deeply into their relationship after waking up together. The visuals get really bold in this section, breaking things up with muddled fuzz while also giving striking pinks and blues.

2. After Kasio runs away from home again, and the post-rock music swells as Kasio's falls to her lowest moment and Cassiopeia's space adventure comes to close. (I found the space metaphor, generally speaking, pretty hokey, but in that moment it matches the swirling post-rock to give Kasio's breakdown the gravity it deserves. The section right after, in all its abstract colours and '90s IDM, also seems to evoke 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I'm sure was no accident.) I do think the aftermath feels a little too easy, but the buildup is almost certainly the most emotional part of the game.

3. Creating a person at the very end of the game. Yeah, the person is supposed to be Kasio, but it could also be you, or your friend, or a person you'd really like to meet. That was the only part of the game that felt mechanically effective, especially because - even though it's the last thing before the credits - it doesn't feel like they're making a big deal of it. It's just a moment to really enact the recreation they speak of, with a set of outfits that leave space for the player's personality while still seeming true to Kasio's character.

This is a game that's going to hit some people more than others, and there's parts of this I couldn't help thinking other Annapurna games did better. But the things this gets right are things anyone can appreciate, and by the end I liked it much more than I expected to at the beginning.
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Azdiff 2021-04-26T01:59:39Z
2021-04-26T01:59:39Z
3.0
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Catalog

burny If Found... 2024-02-21T03:24:25Z
Windows / Mac
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Solanum If Found... 2023-12-26T09:57:07Z
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o______________________O If Found... 2023-12-26T04:35:49Z
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soothing If Found... 2023-12-14T20:53:39Z
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  • Previous comments (1) Loading...
  • starlitevenings 2021-06-22 10:34:24.891581+00
    pretty great to see a trans story in media that isn't set in the present day
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  • Dr_Manhattan95 2021-07-05 21:32:12.069103+00
    Wow, incredible presentation.
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  • charredwind 2021-11-21 07:20:01.953621+00
    this game destroyed me
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  • cassisarobot 2022-03-14 20:07:48.567034+00
    If Found... means the absolute world to me. I can't think of any other piece of media that makes me a emotional as it
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  • Tangrowth 2022-06-27 03:01:44.892941+00
    this is somehow everything I ever could have wanted out of a queer game, I loved it so much
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  • dzhakh 2023-02-11 22:10:20.555577+00
    people are praising the art style, does it look better in the game than the screenshots here? It looks like a parody of a tumblr art style in the screenshots
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  • contact 2023-03-12 22:12:52.929719+00
    incredible
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  • chumlum 2023-07-28 15:32:44.405459+00
    good presentation, but it comes across as embellishment since the text is shallow, hesitate to even call this a VN given how little reading there is. I'll call it VJ visual journal :D
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