Game review: Your phone dies in 20 seconds

Come on. Come on. You chant quietly to yourself, constantly checking over your shoulder.


Summary: The game could use some polishing, both text-wise and maybe styling/mechanics-wise or I would love to see a “remastered/remake” of this fun time killer. It’s definitely worth a few plays, it’s minimalistic, so don’t expect it to be enormous or perfect.

Introduction to the game

You are walking home from work. You are being followed. With only 20 seconds left of power on your phone, you can attempt to make contact with people that you think could help you out. Is 20 seconds enough time to save your life? The game sets an adrenaline-like state before one has even pressed ‘Play’! The game has many possible endings, totaling seven. What’s even more impressive is the fact it’s the creator’s first game ever made and it was submitted to the jam “My first game jam”. The game is said to encapsulate the fears a woman could experience as she walks home alone during the nightly hours. The frightening truth is, all scenarios could happen in real life and there is no usage of the supernormal nor of the paranormal, making this game even more horrific. Also a good note, one might recognize this game and experience a déjà vu like feeling, this happens because it originally was “15 seconds”, but due to reasons, it was extended to 20 seconds.

My opinion

Just a humble title screen helps us choose from ‘play’ or ‘credits’, minimalism is sometimes nice, especially when I expect the game runs to last under or around 20 seconds. The first passage tells us that we (the protagonist, who is female we can safely assume), are having a strange feeling in our gut, accompanied by footsteps near us. Luckily we have a handy mobile phone, and as expected, the mobile phone only has a little charge left to aid us in going home safely at night. A little cliché but that doesn’t matter, it’s direct, and crystal clear we might be in danger. Diving right in after choices the first option will cause the timer to start counting down, for we have little time to navigate the protagonist to safety in the darkness shrouded streets of our small town.

Of course, I choose the option which conveniently didn’t trigger the count down, though I brought the protagonist to safety and I have a feeling this game is one big background-story puzzle. Alright, further down the game I managed to get the protagonist presumably kidnapped, I pity her, wandering the streets after working at the restaurants just to earn some more money. As one might suspect this is awfully close to reality, if only the styling of the game featured a ‘true’ phone user interface it would be beyond realistic. It doesn’t really feel like we are navigating through the phone, but it feels more like we are delving through mental options, and the action-response system is what could’ve happened. A little vague I know, let me rephrase, it feels like we are watching the protagonist from the future and we are exploring possibilities, like little detectives.

In most horror games our parents are off no us, thus I didn’t expect something different in this fast-paced interactive fiction game. As one might guess, I exhausted all possible dialogue between the father and mother of the restaurant employee. Let’s just say, I hope I don’t become such a parent… The game’s narrative is interesting to read and it feels like everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. The texts aren’t too long, nor are they filled with flowery dialogue or difficult synonyms of simple words. The game does allow the usage of these twenty seconds efficiently if we were to think smart and not allow panic to get the better of us.

What’s even more interesting is our spouse, who sometimes is home, and sometimes isn’t. The background of ‘Luke’ is a tricky one and I recommend trying to explore all possible options about him! I don’t want to start talking about ‘Brianne’, but she could’ve been of more aid to the protagonist for sure, not to bash on her completely since she is able to save us one time. Sadly I did find a bug afterward, so if you are the writer of the game, please re-write the passage named: “OK, I’ll keep talking”, it’s missing two brackets! Alright, moving back into the world of fear, rushing, and feeling hopeless. Our last options are the infamous never responding emergency services when you need them the most. As hypothesized they do indeed respond wrongly and they are too late, realistically speaking, a kidnapper only needs minutes to remove you from the world. Luckily the protagonist can indeed be saved by the responders if of course, you’re thinking smartly (which is difficult with only twenty seconds).

I did enjoy this fun little toy, but I did badly miss the promised audio, the devlogs wrote about them, but I never found a trace of it… not even after dissecting the compiled game. As for the endings and feeling, I did adore the “missing woman” ending, since I got it far too often because I did indeed feel the pressure, and as said, the pressure makes it really feel like “we are being clumsy with our keys while an attacker is about to jump us.” The game could use some polishing, both text-wise and maybe styling/mechanics-wise. I would love to see a “remastered/remake” of this fun time killer. It’s definitely worth one’s time, but it’s minimalistic as said in the first paragraph, so don’t expect it to be enormous or perfect.

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