Sometimes, experiences in our life cut through the middle of our memories, separating the past into before and after an event. Perhaps our childhood is split into before and after our parents' divorce, our teenage years split into before and after a breakup, perhaps your whole life feels like it is split between before and after a loss, or a big move, or the moment you discover something important about yourself. In If Found… you are tasked with helping Kasio, a young Irish girl, erase her before.
It is through her diary that we get glimpses into her life, as she returns from university to her home in Achill, Ireland. Through her writing and sketches, we see her try to navigate life amongst a family who aren’t able to accept who she truly is, and, later, some friends who are. The mechanic of rubbing out the pages to navigate the story is ingenious. Erasing someone’s memories is strange at first - it simultaneously feels cathartic and even uncomfortable - but it leads to some beautiful transitions between scenes that had me smiling, even when Kasio’s story would have otherwise had me watery-eyed. This was the case even in the simplest moments, like rubbing over an image of Kasio to see her go from sleeping, to awake, to trying to get back to sleep again.
Through short bio’s of the people in Kasio’s life, you quickly learn to love, or - in the case of Kasio’s older brother Fergal - detest them. The writing is simplistic but effective, poetic without being pretentious, and the matter of fact way in which Kasio recounts certain moments or people provides a clear picture, even when the drawings in the diary are covered with graffiti, or scratched out. It took less than ten minutes for me to fall in love with Kasio’s friend Colum, for example, and I desperately want a motherly figure like Maggy in my life.
Throughout Kasio’s recounting of experiences, the game dances back and forth between feeling warm and gentle to abrasive and raw, yet it all feels so delicately woven together. The sound effects and visuals will oftentimes leave you lingering on a particular moment in Kasio’s ‘before,’ though I have a feeling this is something the developers fully anticipated. On many occasions, the sound of gentle rainfall and the drawing of a house set against a beautiful color palette would have me transfixed. I’ve never experienced ASMR, but it turns out listening to rainfall and rubbing through the pages of an Irish girl's diary are the closest I’m going to get.
It isn’t all beautiful blue and pink color palettes and dreamy music, however. As Kasio recounts arguments with family or moments where she struggles within herself, uncomfortable imagery or unpleasant music will have you rushing to make it stop. Sometimes all the emotions will combine. A scene that sees Kasio going to see her friends’ band, fills you with the all-encompassing, stifling, claustrophobic yet exciting feeling of going to a gig, as you erase the images of crowds to get closer to the stage.
Much like a great gig, If Found… takes you through a whirlwind of emotions. I felt overwhelmed, I felt moved, and I completely forgot about the world outside of it. It ended with me wanting to experience it all over again. And, most importantly, when it was over I really wanted to buy the t-shirt.
If Found… is available on Steam now.