One of my favorite developments to come from the smartphone and tablet era (and likely also related to the rise of social media and peoples’ obsessions with said devices) is the “found phone" or “mixed reality" style of games. A popular example would be 2017’s A Normal Lost Phone from Accidental Queens that is more or less a puzzle game that pretends your own phone is someone’s lost phone that you’ve come across and you’re tasked with searching through all of its personal details to find out what happened to the phone’s owner. Over the course of the past year, London-based studio Electric Noir has been testing the waters with a similar found phone narrative experience, but this time one entirely based around a supposed murder. Aptly titled Dead Man’s Phone, you play as a Scotland Yard detective who is tasked with searching through a teenager’s phone to try and find clues as to how this teenager came to fall from the balcony of a high rise down to his death.
While Dead Man’s Phone has been in the works for the past few years, it was all throughout last year that Electric Noir has been conducting open beta testing on the game’s first season, and it’s this testing period that has brought on all sorts of accolades like a BAFTA nomination for Best Mobile Game of 2020 and a selection for the 2021 London Games Festival. WIRED also did an excellent write-up on the game this past December that goes into detail about the production and how Electric Noir allowed the young actors who play the various characters in the game to simply roam around London together filming and using their smartphones to capture footage for the game. This, coupled with allowing the youngsters to also fill in all of the current slang and daily lifestyles of the teenagers of today, gives the game an incredibly authentic feel.
This week Electric Noir has announced that Dead Man’s Phone is set to release next month. This release will include all of Season 1, which spans 6 episodes with the first episode being available for free and lasting around 60 minutes and the subsequent 5 episodes being sold as IAP and lasting around 90 minutes each. Work is already underway for a Season 2 but for now I’m really looking forward to experiencing the first season of Dead Man’s Phone when it arrives in March.