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The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories

Developer: White Owls Publisher: Arc System Works
11 October 2018
The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.47 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
79 Ratings / 1 Reviews
#1,484 All-time
#65 for 2018
After J.J.'s best friend, Emily, goes missing during a camping trip, J.J. searches across Memoria Island hoping to find her.
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The narrative and gameplay are equally full of unrealized potential. Although the story is built on a solid foundation and tries to explore interesting themes, it's delivered with the grace of a car crash. Providing details through phone messages is ineffective, given that texts usually lack the subtleties needed to build a character. It doesn’t help that JJ herself is characterized like a wooden plank. The player knows her mother is overprotective and that she’s struggling with her identity, but outside of the problems happening to her, there’s no insight into her personality at all. She’s nearly empty as a character. It’s almost comical to read her replying “ok” and “yeah” to every conversation. Speaking of which, the game has a serious tone problem. JJ can be suffering through traumatizing agony and pain over her physical and emotional injuries one moment, only for her to be sending funny Whatsapp stickers to her plushie the next.
FK, the only character who speaks with JJ, is himself deadweight and does nothing more than contextualize the narrative through recollections of memories. The Missing has a series of elements that could connect, but don’t because of how unexplored they are or how abruptly they cut into each other. The dialogue with FK, for example, isn’t valuable enough to justify its presence. Most of the surreal aspects are never explored enough to mean anything significant and, ultimately, occupy a very subdued spot in the experience. I’m not going to say what they could have been used for, it’s not my narrative, but the temples, the monkeys, and the deer could have all meant something. I do think these sorts of things can exist simply for the sake of it, but when the rest of the narrative isn’t developed enough, they just stick out as another disjointed aspect.
Not everything is poorly executed, however. The Missing is surprisingly coherent and profound at its core. Self-destruction and healing are central, and these themes are incredibly impactful when you realize that understanding an identity that isn’t tied to the norm requires you to destroy and reconstruct the very idea of “self”. Becoming someone you truly accept requires you to pick yourself apart piece by piece. It’s a painful process, but you must bear it. In that sense, the gameplay (despite being a little boring, even if interesting) and story are intertwined very coherently. The connection is obvious, but not everything has to be subtle to work.
I like The Missing. It’s an awkwardly delivered story with boring gameplay, but it’s written genuinely, from a place of kindness and comprehension. You can find a poignant statement under the layers of narrative inconsistency and tone-deafness.
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MiuSchardo 2023-09-26T00:29:20Z
2023-09-26T00:29:20Z
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(written apr 17, 2019)

THE MISSING is hard to play.

Physically, it’s somewhat of a breeze, taking about five hours to hike through. But emotionally, THE MISSING takes an unprecedented toll. It’s a game about torturing yourself to squeeze through a world uncomfortably unknown.

Swery65 is a cult icon known for charmingly scrappy visuals and Lynchian storytelling, but in the past, both have served for little purpose beyond homage. DEADLY PREMONITION is a painfully obvious Twin Peaks adaptation, and D4: DARK DREAMS DON’T DIE was pure balls-to-the-walls insanity with a nice “New York detective” flavor.

Now we see Swery’s gift as a storyteller with THE MISSING. The game follows J.J. Macfield, a young woman finding her missing lover, Emily, after being bestowed the power of near-immortality. J.J. can be dismembered, set on fire, have her bones broken, and roll around as a sentient decapitated head, but she can resume to her natural state with the push of a button.

Keep in mind, these are the mechanics for a puzzle game. That’s Swery for you.

And that is what makes THE MISSING so hard to play: hearing J.J. scream raspily for help as her bones crack in half, stumps where her arms should be spill with blood. If she’s missing a leg, she’ll hop a few times before tripping, ultimately needing to crawl to her goal. There’s a darkly comical tone to this, simply by the fact that J.J. submits herself to this unbearable torture for the sake of solving puzzles and obtaining donuts, the collectibles of the game.

What keeps you going is the narrative, revealed through text messages from J.J.’s past, with her mother, Emily, and her friends. It’s really hard to talk about the story in any detail; the ending gives true form to the game as a whole and it would be a crime for me to spoil any part of it. Just know you’re in for Swery at the peak of his storytelling.

Not much else to say other than THE MISSING is one of the most conceptually sound platformers since INSIDE, beautifully and tactfully exploring the lengths we go for other people and ourselves.
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keublitz 2022-12-10T04:41:55Z
2022-12-10T04:41:55Z
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JJ155 The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-02-22T23:46:08Z
2024-02-22T23:46:08Z
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Sylveonis The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-02-20T00:42:29Z
2024-02-20T00:42:29Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DJSuleiman The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-01-30T13:57:44Z
Xbox One
2024-01-30T13:57:44Z
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cNarpman128 The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-01-30T01:26:22Z
2024-01-30T01:26:22Z
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amberly The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-01-27T07:16:15Z
2024-01-27T07:16:15Z
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steam
HonestyleKaz The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-01-24T12:53:17Z
2024-01-24T12:53:17Z
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true_n The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-01-12T17:39:50Z
2024-01-12T17:39:50Z
3.5
1
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Fictionous The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-01-07T23:42:39Z
2024-01-07T23:42:39Z
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willoverdoseonmusic The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-01-07T04:27:35Z
2024-01-07T04:27:35Z
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Dragonhawk The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-01-05T05:02:08Z
2024-01-05T05:02:08Z
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raegazel The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-01-03T02:29:58Z
2024-01-03T02:29:58Z
7.0
1
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electr8r The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories 2024-01-02T22:15:06Z
2024-01-02T22:15:06Z
2.0
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  • LordofSushi 2018-10-29 14:52:20.90999+00
    OK I was not expecting a new Swery game to come out before The Good Life. :D
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  • PZT 2018-11-02 20:54:09.664311+00
    The best LGBT-core game of all time and the new standard to beat, makes every other attempt look like juvenile crayon scribblings
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  • Zackauz 2018-12-18 19:12:21.931055+00
    Love seeing gameplay aid narrative to this extent, seems like the most sincere effort from Swery yet too
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  • angelhospital 2019-01-04 15:47:07.739995+00
    The only LGBT narrative in video games that has struck me so deeply.
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  • Decibelle 2019-01-13 21:59:08.116282+00
    "The best LGBT-core game" not quite sure about this one chief
    reply
    • IshmaelBlack 2021-10-11 09:34:54.594176+00
      Definitely not lmao
    • nessandco 2022-01-09 22:42:39.141738+00
      any reccs?
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  • flowergirlcore 2021-05-07 17:03:22.00696+00
    I got my name from this game lol
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  • wallrooseyes 2023-03-07 01:45:46.667056+00
    swery does limbo and it goes over an absolute treat

    buggy as fuck tho
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  • skramzboi 2023-09-21 17:29:07.142152+00
    game industry such a shit pool nowadays. wtf is this game?!
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