The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories from SWERY, White Owls and Ark System Works is a very interesting horror puzzle game. Find out why in our The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories review!
“This game was made with the belief that nobody is wrong for being what they are” is one of the first messages you see when you start this game, and while some might dismiss it as a legal disclaimer or to get away with doing something controversial, The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories truly takes that message to heart, tackling dark, deep and important topics about coming of age, finding yourself and diversity.
The pitch seems simple enough: You play as J.J. Macfield, a girl who doesn’t die even when she goes through gory and gruesome acts of mutilation in order to solve the mystery surrounding the disappearance of her best friend in a place plagued with her very own fears and nightmares in order to save her. But this game is so, so much more than that.
The mechanics are simple, a bit wonky, yet shocking. Puzzles require you to maybe amputate your arm to use it as a piece, or maybe get knocked on the head to turn the world upside down- quite literally. You can hear her screams of pain and the cracks on her bones, but you can always get her back together, as if nothing ever happened, just to do so over and over again. The more you traverse through the platforms of the game, the gorier it might get, and you never really get used to it. Sure, it might be logical to you to say “oh I need to get my leg cut off” after a while. But whenever you think too hard about it, it just doesn’t sit well in your guts.
The puzzles and gameplay aren’t too revolutionary. The graphics and sound design are, though charming and fitting, not innovative either. But where this game truly does shine, is in the story. It’s the core and heart of the entire game and experience. As the game progresses, you can collect donuts that, over time, unlock messages in J.J.’s phone that gives us a look into her past. You learn about her friends, family and her life. And little by little, pieces start to fall together, and the bigger picture of her life can lead many to realize what she has gone through and what led her to this moment.
This is one of those games that, after you finish it, it stays with you, and you can’t really explain why to someone else without spoiling the feeling. You need to experience it and come to your own conclusions firsthand to really understand why it’s such an important game. You will be thinking about J.J. for a long while, about what she went through in her past and what she is going through as you play the game.
This is a very important game, not only because of the gameplay or the horror mechanics but also because of the story and message it presents about diversity, about finding yourself, about the worries that come with growing up, but more than anything, it’s a message about diversity, revival, and regeneration. It is about how no matter what you may go through, there’s always a way to come back, to grow, to learn, and to embrace yourself from within. I do recommend discretion if you are triggered by gore, self-harm, suicide and gender and sexual themes, as these can hit hard for the player, so be ready!
This The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories review is based on a Steam copy provided by Arc System Works.