Game of the Month is a new USgamer series where we highlight our favorite game we played of the last 30-something days. This month: If Found challenges our perceptions of storytelling in bleak subjects.
I played If Found while considerably hungover. It probably wasn't the best start to a game that plays on emotions of emptiness, loneliness, and longing, but I persevered with it nonetheless. By the end of If Found, I felt entirely different than I had at the start, uplifted and extremely emotional, but in a good way. So I guess in that sense, If Found actually cured my hangover.
If Found is a tale set in rural Ireland, developed by Dublin-based Dreamfeel and published by Annapurna Interactive. It's a sobering story of family, lost causes, defunct relationships, and so much more, presented in a shapeshifting visual palette of paintings, line drawings, and more. I gave it a glowing 4.5/5 in my original review earlier this month, and a few weeks later, If Found has emerged as USgamer's Game of the Month for May, standing triumphant in its bold storytelling and visual design.
If Found perceives struggle and heartbreak as an integral part of being human; something that happens when, not if. But the point If Found is trying to make is that although these emotions and failures are integral to living, they can be overcome through unconventional methods and unlikely allies. Look at it this way: all through If Found, I was expecting the main character Kasio to make up with her mother and brother on-screen, to give them a big hug, and for everyone to end the game as a family, still intact and together.
If Found doesn't do this. It instead presents Kasio's source of happiness and closure in her tale as her evolving through the experiences of the past two months. Kasio grows independently as a human being, and uses the experience to forge forward in her life, personally and professionally, and find her own happiness.
Dreamfeel's game teaches us that although some heart-wrenching experiences are a part of human life, it's how we deal with and overcome these experiences that's truly unique to human nature. It also, and really crucially, teaches us that we can overcome these painful periods in our lives, and still keep on going.
If Found says that there's beauty in the wake of suffering, and that we can pull through the difficult times. That's truly what makes If Found a special and memorable journey; approaching storied subject material from a new perspective.
What I hope is that If Found reaches a substantial audience. It released at pretty much the perfect time of year: just when people were starting to peel themselves away from the hundreds of hours spent in Animal Crossing, and were looking for something new. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll be talking about If Found again at the end of 2020 as one of, if not the, single best games released this year.