• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

But Not Lost & Forgotten

  • Frogge
  • 02/07/2019 01:13 PM

Lost & Found by AmandaJackson
Length: ~15 minutes

I took a little break from the nostalgia review saga by reviewing The Endless Empty and The Lost & Forgotten, both of which are games I hadn't actually played before. But I think it's time we return to the series with Lost & Found, which I'm ironically reviewing almost back to back with Lost & Forgotten. Of course, the games aren't anything alike, it's just that they have similar names. I suppose the only other thing that might connect the two is that they're both extremely short games with a sort of sombre, relaxing atmosphere. Which is interesting, because this game in particular actually claims to be a horror, but it's nothing of the kind. If the name of this game sounds familiar to you, you might be aware that recently this game got stolen and uploaded to steam by "developer" Garnudo Games, and is actually still up there since the developer hasn't been around in a while, hence they couldn't file a report to get it taken down. You know, steam's a dipshit and won't take our word for it.

Anyway, I played Lost & Found when it actually first came out, which I believe was all the way back in 2014. Back then, I enjoyed it a lot, but also, I was just starting out with rpg maker horror games and I pretty much enjoyed every game of the genre that I played. There was always one lingering mystery to me back then - how do you get the game's second ending? I had managed to get the first ending, but never really the second. I believe I replayed the game multiple times in an attempt to find it, but gave up pretty quickly.

The irony is that now that years have passed, I actually got that second ending first rather than the ending I had initially gotten. Both endings are kind of dumb, but I'll get to that later on in this review. Right now, I suggest we start by talking about concept a little bit.

Fetishes develop at a young age.

Lost & Found is the story of a boy named Peter who lives locked up in his grandmother's house, à la Rapunzel, and does not have permission to go outside. One day after his grandmother leaves for groceries, Peter manages to find a key to her grandmother's room, which he's somehow never actually been to before. I'm straight off gonna question the fact that he's somehow only finding the key now. Has his grandmother never left him home alone before? Surely she must have, considering she has to leave for groceries. This is a bit of a common theme we'll see a couple times across this review, a lack of logic in the writing. Anyway, after a series of unfortunate events take place upon Peter opening the room, his grandmother runs off into the woods and Peter must now search for her. Kind of an interesting concept there. I like how it's almost like a reverse Silent Hill, where instead of the father chasing after her daughter, it's the child that's actually chasing after the parent.

Lost & Found is actually based on a short story by Amanda Jackson, according to the credits. One thing that's a bit weird here is that Amanda Jackson also made this game. So I guess they kinda just based off the story on their... own story? I mean, that's what most games do, I feel like that's a weird way to credit yourself for writing in the credits. The game page also tells you that there's some side mysteries to be found here, but I made sure to explore the game thoroughly, and couldn't find anything of the kind. I looked in the game files to see if there was anything to be found, but there didn't seem to be. My best guess is that the "side mystery" is supposed to be who the dude in the tent is, but it's really not much of a mystery.

Anyway, going back to the main plot, while I do think there's potential in this concept, it's not handled amazingly. The game is filled with holes in the logic in particular, as I've mentioned, so time to delve into the spoiler territory to take a look at those a little bit.

First things first, the dumbest thing here has to be that the first ending has Peter getting locked up in an asylum for young children, for seemingly no reason at all. Why would you lock a child into an asylum? Because they claim to be able to see weird things? Yeah, children have wild imaginations, this is just a common everday situation. Because he's seeing the ghost of his dead grandma? The simple psychological explanation for this would be that it's the trauma catching up. Not a reason to lock a child in an asylum that be. A lot of rpg maker horror games have this dumb misconception that mental illness, or even just common psychological symptoms like withdrawal, denial, trauma et cetera leading to hallucinations cannot be treated and that the only solution is to throw the suffering character into a mental institution. They also have this common trope of antagonizing said institutions that attempt to help treat these people, but I'll give Lost & Found a pass because I feel like the game's implied to be taking place in the past, when these institutions legit used to be dumpsters where families would simply dump their mentally ill relatives so that they wouldn't have to deal with them.

Anyway, let's move on from that ending and look at the other, where upon seeing his grandmother's ghost, Peter drinks water from his inventory (that he found in a cave btw) that makes him fall asleep and instead of an asylum, he ends up at a nursery home. A better ending for sure, but I still question the logic in a bottle of water having so much power. It just kind of feels like an asspull deus ex machina moment that absolutely does not feel grounded in reality. There's a few other logical hole moments like this, such as flipping some switches in the caves somehow getting rid of some plants. It's a shame because I feel like one of the better selling aspects of Lost & Found would have been that it's a story that feels like it could have actually happened rather than a supernatural fiction if only these weird contrivences weren't there.

Expecting those random encounters any second now.

I could generally look past some flaws in the writing like this if other aspects of the game were worth playing it for, but sadly there isn't much to Lost & Found beyond that. I suppose the other main positive aspect I could praise here would be the atmosphere. I already mentioned this a bit in the intro, but Lost & Found is actually a very relaxing game. The music is rtp, but it's used in a quiet, soft way, and the tints are just about dark enough to feel cozy but not gloomy. There's one really weird sound effect when you get the key that's in the bread basket that's really loud and completely out of place, but otherwise, Lost & Found is actually a pretty chill game.

The visuals are just RTP, and they're not used in the most interesting ways. Mapping errors like having a bed go up the wall are fairly common and the maps themselves tend to be very large and empty. The facesets are cute but don't really fit into the game particularly well, and they also sometimes don't actually match the sprite of the character that's talking. One thing I can give praise to is the visual polish in the cutscenes. Lost & Found is actually very cinematic. Fades are used very well and characters move in natural and believeable ways. Where a lot of rpg maker games would simply turn the grandmother invisible instantly after she reaches the door, making it look like she teleported outside, Lost & Found takes the time to make her sprite gradually fade out, making the transition look a lot more natural. This is just one example, but almost every cutscene makes good decisions like this in the way it shows you the visual information. It's not an rpg maker cinematography masterpiece, but it's pretty good. The thunder effects are a really nice touch too.

The game could use a bit more playtesting, though. A lot of pools of water have flowers over them, for some reason, and you can step on all of them, leading to some passability errors. The default rpg maker menu was also needlessly kept in there.

The gameplay isn't anything spectacular in general, it's just your average adventure game. There's not really any puzzles since items are used automatically, save for one switch puzzle in the caves and one where you have to find a spot marked on a badly drawn map (which is also present in like... every other rpg maker horror game ever, for some reason). Why the grandmother would leave that map lying around considering what it leads to is beyond me, but I've already brought up my frustrations as to how little sense this game makes enough, so I won't go into it again. There's two endings if you explore the woods enough, and both are pretty easy to obtain. Interestingly, I think some items may have gone completely unused, or at least I could not find where to use them, such as the screwdriver and knife.

Lost & Found might be worth trying out for the core concept, but just don't expect a lot of things in this game to make sense. Also be aware that this game is much more relaxing than it is scary, so not exactly something I would recommend if you're looking for horror. I give Lost & Found three deus ex water bottles out of five.