My cursor is an eraser, the task clear: I am told to erase. The visual novel If Found asks me to remove everything. I erase texts, scenes and beautiful illustrations. One layer at a time, I erase, going deeper and deeper into Kasio’s story.
Kasio is a young transgender woman visiting her childhood village in Ireland. Her transformation and search for acceptance by family and society shape her life thus far. The game takes me on the sometimes sad, sometimes hopeful journey of a young woman who wants nothing more than to be herself.
I get to know the talented master’s graduate, her family and friends through her diary. The secret glimpse into a stranger’s diary is intimate and I browse through Kasio’s unfiltered thoughts. She chooses her own name and family. Her biological relatives so far lack the tolerance to be a safe haven for her.
The soundtrack captures the mood almost hypnotically. If I’m not careful, I quickly get lost in the electronic tunes. The colors also emphasize the heroine’s emotions. They are yellowish and bright when Kasio is happy, and turn blue and dark when she despairs. The combination of image and sound creates an atmosphere that unconsciously controls my temperament. I erase frantically and quickly when the danger or her displeasure increases. But glide slowly and harmoniously across the screen when she is doing well. If Found and Kasio are moving me. Dreamfeel uses mechanics that are barely noticeable, but leave a strong impression. So I ride the roller coaster in the first car, enjoying the view on the way up and sweating nervously as soon as it goes down.
And then I’ve done it, I’ve erased everything, removed all the layers. Nothing remains of the past, there is only the present and the future. In the end, I leave only a blank page for the new beginning.
If Found is a story-driven viusal novel from Irish developer Dreamfeel and publisher Annapurna Interactive. Those who know the games under the name of Annapurna Interactive know that gameplay and art style are a matter of taste, but players can certainly expect an unusual take on a good story. If Found is exactly that and deservedly won in the “Best LGBTQ Indie Game” and “Best LGBTQ Narrative” categories at the 2021 Gayming Awards.
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