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A while back, I discovered a new genre that caught my attention — FMV. For the uninitiated, this stands for full-motion video, which, in really simple terms, just means you'll find actors in the flesh. This was both the hook and the dissuasion to my interest, as I was intrigued to play a game that tries to blur the lines between fiction and reality by using real people. That same reliance on actors (and their most likely than not crappy performance) is what made me so weary, as I feared that it would be even harder to stay immersed in the story if you were constantly bombarded by real people. 

Well, yet again, thanks to Fanatical, I got to get my hands on a trilogy of FMV — SIMULACRASIMULACRA 2, and SIMULACRA 3 — and I jumped straight into it to finally experience a new genre in gaming. In it, you play as a person who receives a stranger's cell phone on their doorstep, and after snooping, you find out that the owner, Anna, has gone missing. 

Yet again, I've gone into a game expecting something completely different from what I actually booted up. At first glance, SIMULACRA looked like a horror title with a ton of mystery strung up around it, and although it does have a lot of jumpscares and amateur detective work (mostly done by snooping like a creep), it's much more lighthearted than I expected. Even since the beginning of the journey, the game doesn't really bother explaining much about anything — you just kind of have to accept that you're some random person who got someone's phone and decided it was a good idea to look through her stuff. 

1st simulacra pic Cropped2

I wouldn't say this bothered me, though I was very confused for a while because I had expected something much more serious. Once I clicked with the game's vibe, I found myself having a blast, even during the downtimes when I wouldn't know what to do next and ended up clicking everything like a madman trying to figure out what I missed.

Throughout the game, you’ll spend your time snooping through the apps on Anna’s phone, watching videos, hearing voice messages from the cast, and trying to figure out what happened to her; it’s simple and easy to keep up with despite the lack of tutorials or guidance. I actually quite enjoyed having to really piece the puzzle together without having to be told what to do next, even if I was sometimes stumped for a few minutes because I didn’t pay enough attention. That being said, the game more than makes up for the downtimes with ridiculous situations and comical dialogue, both caused, in big part, thanks to the freedom of choice. I had too much fun with the ability to become a chaos goblin and troll everyone in the chats, as you get to choose whether you want to pretend to be Anna, actually help find her, or just be lawless, spill the beans to random strangers, and become a snark lord at her boyfriend.

2nd pic simulacra Cropped2

Truth be told, I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. In my experience, most horror games' narratives are a bit silly and fall short of really making an impact outside of the jump scares (which, quick warning, SIMULACRA has quite a few of, and they can be very loud). It also really helped me settle into the game that, right off the bat, the dialogue options and situations were comical, letting me know this wasn't going to be narrative to be taken overly seriously.

Now that I'm done with it, after just shy of five hours of gameplay, I can't wait to go back and unlock the rest of the endings. SIMULACRA has a lot to offer if you're looking for a short experience with a few unsettling situations and a lot of laughs, and if you can veer into silliness, I definitely recommend it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go play the second entry and find a way to swallow the cringy and over-the-top influencer cast...  

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Christian Schmidt

Christian Schmidt

Staff Writer

Playing videogames, listening to nightcore

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