I’m no stranger to Angela He’s unique brand of games, having played I Woke Up Next to You Again and He Beat Her previously. Unlike most of the games I cover here, Angela’s games focus on more thought provoking themes and subjects, that attempt to replicate some aspect of human nature. Her games are less about the outcome and more about the experience, dropping us head first into narratives that challenge not just our realities, but our perceptions of others. Each of her games is an experience.
Earlier this month Angela He released a brand new title, Missed Messages and she is in full form with this new game. Equally haunting and thought provoking, Missed Messages doesn’t just tell a story, it takes you on a journey. There are four distinct endings with each playthrough taking between 15 – 30 minutes. Point and click through environments for clues while also making meaningful in-game choices that help advance the plot. Warning this game contains mentions of suicide and self-harm, which may be triggering for some players.
“goth gf’s iPhone” airdrops you a photo.
Accept or decline?
A romance / horror story about life, death, and memes.
How will you spend time?
– Synopsis (Game Site)
Like Angela He’s previous titles, Missed Messages has a deceptively simplistic premise, you receive an airdrop photo from a mysterious stranger. Do you accept the photo or do you ignore it? This should be a simple choice, but as I have learned from playing Angela He’s previous games, ‘nothing is never as it seems’. The theme of the game is ‘missed messages’ both in the literal sense and the figurative sense, it’s about the connections we make and break, some unknowingly and some deliberately. You can choose to focus on a seemingly superficial interaction with a stranger that could potentially develop into something much more substantial or choose to notice the much more subtle “messages” from someone much closer to home.
Angela’s games don’t feel like games, because she has a knack for portraying relatable human experiences, tackling sensitive topics in a way that is just so candid and realistic. Each game taps into a different aspect of the human experience, I Woke Up Next to You Again looked at the destructive nature of addiction by depicting “addiction” as an unhealthy casual sexual encounter. He Beat Her looks at the complicated he said, she said of a domestic violence dispute, where the truth is not as black and white as we might imagine. And You Left Me attempts to visually conceptualize suicidal thoughts and ideations and the effects loss and death have on those left behind. Missed Messages is no different, focusing on the importance of picking up on the subtle cries for help, the “missed messages” that we often dismiss or overlook. I don’t want to spoil too much of the game, since not knowing the entire situation up front is what makes the choices you make throughout that much more impactful.
How we spend our time, the day to day activities we do every day pale in comparison to genuine human interaction. The small everyday conversations we have with each other, sometimes something as small as asking someone how their day went or simply saying hello are huge to someone desperately seeking to connect with someone, anyone. Missed Messages is both a social commentary and reflexive exercise that challenges us to look beyond the things that fill in the gaps in our lives and start fostering lasting personal connections with other people. Of course this is not always easy, and Missed Messages is a game about hard truths, and a lot of that comes through in the game’s phenomenal dialogue. It’s never preachy or overly contrived, rather it’s much more intimate. Missed Messages is a conversation, sometimes it flows easily and other times it’s awkward and stilted, but the game doesn’t shy away from this, making for a much more organic experience.
I even had a counselor friend of my play the game, and she was impressed with the care with which the game’s subject matter was handled, particularly the interactions with the character contemplating suicide. Which is a topic that hits close to home for me, as I have had a family member end their life, and I must say, Missed Messages is a game that will resonate with a lot of people, whether you have personally struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts or you know someone struggling with these issues. There’s a lesson here, that feel is universal and that’s what makes Angela He’s games so enjoyable, she doesn’t just tell a story, she gives players a chance to experience life in a controlled and safe environment. Because Missed Messages is a game, it makes some of the darker elements more palatable, it gives us a chance to explore the repercussions of our actions as well as learning from our missteps so that when we encounter similar situations in our real lives we are better able to pick up on the warning signs we may have otherwise overlooked.
Missed Messages is an emotionally impactful game that asks a very important question: How will you spend your time? Will you spend it sending memes to a mysterious stranger or will you reach out to a friend in desperate need of help? Will you even know what to do when someone close to you is seeking help or will you miss the subtle messages?
This is once again another deeply moving entry from Angela He and one, that should not be missed. With it’s nuanced characters and thought provoking message, Missed Messages is a game that will stay with you, long after the first playthrough. In fact, I strongly suggest trying to get all of the endings as they offer up unique insights about the characters and their various situations. Missed Messages is a game like no other and i highly recommend giving it a try if you have the chance.
But, don’t just take my word for it! Check out the game over on itch.io or take a look at the game’s trailer below! If you like what you see, play the game, hit the like button, share, or comment! As always, Thank You for Reading!!
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