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Video Game / Sara Is Missing

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Sara Is Missing, or S.I.M., is an adventure/horror game created by Monsoon Lab for Halloween Jam 2016. You find a phone whose data has been almost wholly corrupted. After doing a system restore to before the data was corrupted, you discover an assistant A.I. which greets you as Sara, before realizing that you are not her or with her. With only the limited information left on her phone, you must search through her emails, texts, contacts, and so on in order to find out what happened to her.

The game is available for Android phones and Mac OS X + Windows PCs. A Spiritual Successor named SIMULACRA was released near Halloween 2017.


S.I.M. contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Aya freaks out when Sara doesn't return her texts for days, and begs her to call.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: IRIS after it gets corrupted by the video sent to you by James. Downplayed, in that it doesn't change from its regular behavior prior to the corruption, though as things begin to unfold, you'll get a glimpse of how far IRIS is willing to go for Sara.
    • It’s hinted that Irizu is controlling it, which would make it a possibly subverted example.
  • All for Nothing: If you choose Sara's name in the final sequence, you will fulfill this trope.
  • Always Save the Girl: Rather than call the cops on Irizu, or report the cult to the police once you get their coordinates, IRIS decides to go save Sara and leave you to your fate.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Irizu wears a mask that conceals their facial features, and the photos are not clear enough to tell either way.
  • Asshole Victim: Several of Sara's contacts are, to put it bluntly, assholes. Her ex-boyfriend broke her heart, her outgoing friend Faith pressures her into parties she doesn't want to go to, her mother is controlling and emotionally abusive, Buddy only talks to her in order to sexually harass her over text messages... the list goes on. It makes it a little easier to post the cult's link to them if you use it as a means of punishing them for their behavior.
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  • Benevolent A.I.: IRIS seems pretty reasonable, albeit its human-like behavior can be a bit jarring... though later events (possibly in part to its corruption) reveal that it may not be as benevolent as we think.
  • Big Bad: Irizu is the leader of the sinister cult that has kidnapped Sara, and may or may not be controlling the phone through IRIS.
  • Big Good: IRIS, though with its corruption and confession at the end that it's just doing it for Sara, it is and will be limited to an extent, and it may actually be a puppet/avatar of Irizu.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Irizu doesn’t seem to consider their senseless slaughter of innocent human beings as “killing”, because everyone dies eventually and God is the one who kills them.
  • But Thou Must!: When Irizu forces you to choose between Sara and Faith within 10 seconds, you can attempt to simply not respond, but IRIS will intervene and choose Faith to die.
  • Controllable Helplessness: You can't talk to anyone except via text with minimal dialogue options. When James tries to call you, you're unable to answer him.
  • Cult: The main antagonist is possibly the leader of the cult. It's unknown how they function or what their goals are, but one thing's for certain: they're dangerous and they don't care about human life.
  • Downer Ending: James and either Faith or Sarah are dead, the cult gets to live another day and you're likely to die or become a member of the cult yourself.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: You can save Sara, but no matter what route you take, James is doomed to be killed by the cult members.
  • False Friend: It's implied that Faith is this, as she seems to have lured Sara to the Walpurgisnacht ceremony under the guise of it being a regular party with the intention of doing harm to her.
  • First-Person Perspective: The game is spent looking through a missing girl's phone without showing what the player looks like.
  • The Fundamentalist: Irizu seems to paint themselves as an instrument of God, and considers their murdering to be helping God decode who lives and dies.
  • Fun with Acronyms: IRIS stands for Intelligent Recognitive Iconolatry System.
  • Genre Shift: At first, it seems like another horror mystery thriller with a flavor of sci-fi due to IRIS, but then terrifying and psychological paranormal activities kick in soon enough.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The weird baby-like wail you hear during James' second call after you learn about Irizu. Even James wonders what he just heard.
  • Hidden Depths: Sara is part of a poetry society and writes verses in her phone notes.
  • Hollywood Satanism: A mysterious cult that's into satanic rituals and kills people because they can/it's necessary, and no one knows about them without getting killed or joining. Ironically, their leader expresses a religiously fanatical philosophy of “helping God decide who to kill”, though it’s not clear if it’s genuine.
  • Hope Spot: You find Sara, after James dies. She's still alive, but you have to choose between saving her and Faith. Regardless of your choice, someone will die.
  • It Amused Me: Irizu’s reason for making you choose between letting Faith or Sara live is “it it fun.”
  • It Has Only Just Begun: Welcome to the cult, player.
  • Jerkass: Sara's mother comes across as this from her conversation with her.
    • Jerkass Has a Point: Though her mother has a reasonable point when she tells Sara that getting a degree in parapsychology (or 'ghost research' as she calls it) will more than likely not get her a proper paying job.
  • Jump Scare: Once you restore the phone, you get one.
    • After you look through the restored messages, James calls the phone and you get treated to a loud ringtone.
  • Karma Houdini: Irizu gets away with the murders of James, Faith (or Sara) and presumably the countless murders of numerous people.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Sara has a cat that is part of her home screen.
  • Knight Templar:
  • Lured into a Trap: How Sara was kidnapped by the cult. Whether Faith intended to trap Sara for one reason or another is uncertain, but all evidence seems to point to it being the most likely.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Irizu. They capture James and threaten to kill him if you don't send the link to the curse to the people on Sara's phone, though even if you comply with their demand, they still kill James. Also, when they reveal they have Sara and Faith, they force you to choose which one will live.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Sara means 'princess'. As she is IRIS's master, it serves as her knight templar with Undying Loyalty.
    • When choosing between Sara and Faith, if you choose any other option that isn't to save Sara, then IRIS will lose faith in you.
    • IRIS is Apple's Siri, backwards. Ironically, the iOS version of this game came after the PC version. IRIS (if literally pronounced like Siri backwards) also sounds eerily similar to Irizu, which would be "Iris" in Japanese pronunciation, or at least a pronunciation by a Japanese person not having heard how it's pronounced in English. "Iris" in Japanese pronunciation is "Airizu".
  • My Beloved Smother: Sara's mom, who seems to have only allowed Sara as much freedom as she has on the expectation that she would fail and come crawling home.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Playing James's video corrupts Iris.
    • If you spread the death curse, you condemn more people to death and James still dies.
  • Noodle Incident: Sara has fallen for Faith's "coven initiations" before.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • James when the cult catches up to him. He texts, "Oh shit. I see them." and then disappears shortly.
    • IRIS when it learns that Sara is in danger.
  • Only Sane Man: Aya seems to be this among Sara's friend group, as she is not involved with the paranormal like James, and is also legitimately supportive and kind to Sara, unlike Derek, Buddy, Faith, and her mother.
    • Not to mention James. He knows the "party" is bad news and he calls to make sure that Sara is alright and that she didn't go to it. Most players try their best to save him from Irizu, even though it's useless.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: James is clearly in danger and sends frightened texts to you as he is apprehended... and his next text starts with proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling, with 'Hullo, hullo', said in another thread you saw earlier by an individual named Irizu.
    • A somewhat indirect variant happens in-universe, when Irizu informs Sara that Faith is already at the party, and 'probably drunk already'. Sara, knowing that Faith doesn't drink, immediately realizes something is up.
  • Paranormal Investigation: Seems Sara was very into this, to the point that it was her intended career path.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Night Mind's analysis presents at least one instance:
    • James's cursed video is a compilation of several web horror videos, so unless someone magic'd it, it's not really a death curse.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: The ending when you share your final messages with IRIS, who tells you that you've become a part of something bigger (and all you wanted to do was just help find the owner of this phone so you can give it back to them). All of your replies will instead be overridden with the titular trope. IRIS will then tell you that it's not that it doesn't like talking to you... it just doesn't.
  • Poor Communication Kills: If Derek had told Sara that he got a last minute job that involves a flight on her birthday, that involved photographing nudes for a fashion shoot, she wouldn't have broken up with him. She's upset that he lied to her.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Sara's mother delivers one when Sara refuses to go to an important agency at a copywriter agency, calling her ungrateful and spoiled. Sara can only respond with a neutral "...OK, mom."
  • Sacrificial Lion: James's death reveals that the cult means business.
  • Sadistic Choice: Though none of the choices really matter, at least for now.
    • Refuse to send Irizu's chain mail video within two minutes, and James dies. But even if you do send it, James will die anyway. All you've done is doom another to the cult.
    • Telling Irizu to let Faith die for Sara's survival will, of course, result in Faith's death. If you decide on Sara, then she will die and IRIS will imply to make sure you will regret your choice. However, if you don't say any name, IRIS will override your message and say Faith anyway. Doing this will result in IRIS losing its trust (or faith) in you.
  • Schmuck Bait: Prior to Sara's disappearance, James sends Sara a video which he claims is cursed to cause the viewer's computer to begin freaking out, and to make the viewer go insane.
  • Sequel Hook: It’s not clear if Simulacra is a direct sequel, but the ending definitely leaves some questions hanging. IRIS tells you that you have become part of something larger, and all will be revealed in due time.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spiritual Successor: Shares a good deal of similarities with Her Story, in terms of the general gameplay and scenario.
  • Straw Nihilist: Irizu claims the reason their cult kills people is because everyone will die anyway at the hands of God, so they merely “help” God’s workload.
  • Take Your Time: Sara's phone never runs out of battery while you review her photos, messages and videos.
  • Undying Loyalty: IRIS to Sara. It makes it very clear how important Sara is to it. It's willing to throw away the player once they've helped it locate Sara. In fact, it leaves you alone in the final scene, saying that it doesn't care for the conversation anymore.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Sara tells her mother that the breakup with Derek was mutual, and tells Buddy that Derek broke up with her, when actually she left him due to him taking a job across the country involving nudes, on her birthday, without telling her.
  • The Un-Reveal: At the end of the game, we're left with more questions than answers. Why does IRIS have a similar name to Irizu? What's Sara doing with an incredibly advanced AI on her phone? How did she even lose her phone? How did you find it? Who are these cultists? And what's going to happen to you next?
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: James corrupts Iris by sending the video.
  • Verbal Tic: For some reason, Irizu greets people with ‘hullo’ instead of ‘hello’.
  • Victimized Bystander: You, the player, are Type I. You found a random phone, possibly in the middle of the forest and you started getting random texts from its AI. It persuaded you to help find its owner and return the phone to her. What you didn't realize was that the owner was kidnapped by a cult, possibly with supernatural powers. You get messages from the cult leader, who has captured one of the owner's friends, and forces you to share a cursed link in a failed attempt to save him. Then in the end, you get coordinates to the cult's location and the AI decides that it's done talking to you. It's unknown what your fate is.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Faith and Sara. Possibly. Reading their messages, and with the heavy implication that Faith lured Sara to her kidnapping (not realizing that she would be a victim too), it's unclear if they even liked each other at all.
  • Villain Protagonist: Zigzagged. While the character ultimately cooperates with Iris, they can find the sight of James held hostage "interesting", conversely say that they don't care about him, send the death curse to multiple people (though this invites no response from Irizu), state that they "feel like god" when making a Sadistic Choice, state that they love the sight of seeing Faith and Sara held hostage, ultimately choose to kill one of them not to save the other, but merely because "I wanted to see what you would do to her"; and, oddly enough, the only response that isn't changed to "Please don't leave me" during the final conversation with IRIS is the response stating that the player "wants more death".
  • Walking Spoiler: Irizu, the game's main antagonist and possible leader of the cult.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: No matter what you do when James's life is threatened, you risk one life or multiple. It's all a matter of what you believe is the right choice, even though it doesn't make a difference.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once you have helped IRIS locate Sara, it abandons you and leaves you without a way out of your situation.
  • You Monster!: IRIS will call you out if you choose Sara to die instead of Faith.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: The player's reaction if they send around the link to the curse and Irizu kills James anyway.


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