A well-intentioned visual novel that's also a substitute for Ambien.

As I erased my way through another thematically challenging Annapurna Interactive video game, I wanted to applaud the creators for the risks they took, but also shake them to tell a more compelling story. 

In IF FOUND, the primary gaming mechanism is the act of erasing books, images, and words to unlock the next story point. That’s it. This isn’t a video game. It’s more of a relaxing book to read before bed. And yes, this game did put me to sleep nightly for about a week.

The theme is what makes IF FOUND worth checking out. This is the first video game I can remember where I played a transgender woman. There is a slew of nightmare stories in the gaming industry about not being inclusive. However, with IF FOUND, the developer, Dreamfeel, may have just made the most inclusive narrative yet in gaming. 

What kept me coming back to IF FOUND was the challenging yet simple narrative about learning the lesson, “family isn’t the only one you’re born into.” That’s a powerful lesson for anyone in their early 20s just out of college. That lesson is even more compelling when experienced within a visual video game novel. 

I’m looking forward to what Dreamfeel comes up with next. I hope they learn the lessons in IF FOUND and sharpen their narrative skills a bit. If they do, gamers might have the next Giant Sparrow-like studio to keep an eye on. 

It’s available on most gaming platforms. I played it on the Nintendo Switch.

Aaron "Dobler" Goldstein

Aaron Goldstein is a Product Manager by day, ludicrous speed content consumer by night. He’s a LA Film School Alumni and TV Academy / Producers Guild of America member. Aaron is a proud parent and dad joke enthusiast.

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