Spoilers for both the original SIMULACRA and Pipe Dreams will be left unmarked! You Have Been Warned!
SIMULACRA 2 is an adventure/horror game created by developer Kaigan Games, and is a sequel to SIMULACRA. Itself a Spiritual Successor to Sara is Missing. Unlike the previous game, where a phone is left at your doorstep, you're actually sent a phone by Detective Murilo. Furthermore, you have the option of playing as one of two characters: a reporter whose "beat" is frights, or a junior detective and hardcore skeptic. Your job is to help the detective investigate the death of a young woman named Maya, using information from her three friends- Arya, Mina, and Rex- as well as her colleagues, coworkers and family. As you investigate, you will uncover the dark secrets of Maya and her friends, and eventually discover their connection to the fabled malevolent entity known as The Ripple Man.
Simulacra 2 contains examples of:
- Advert-Overloaded Future: Kimera is absolutely rife with obnoxious ads, although some of them are plot relevant as they come directly from The Ripple Man.
- Ambiguous Situation: The Ripple Man's connection to Simulacra, whether they are the same or different entities. The Ripple Man shares similar motives to the Simulacra, but has a more malevolent personality and different tactics from Simulacra.
- An Aesop: Celebrity Is Overrated, and being a social media star is not as glamorous as it may seem- the lifestyle can become a destructive addiction if one is not careful. Maya died because she and her three friends, all of whom are influencers who became addicted to praise and keeping a good image, made a Deal with the Devil to delete controversial posts out of existence and give themselves more followers and praise, but Maya was taken afterwards as payment. The remaining three friends have done some questionable things in the past to get fame, and they destroy themselves over it. Only when they delete their accounts do they finally find peace.
- Bad "Bad Acting": Invoked in the Kimera videos of the four main characters; they deliberately exaggerate and come off as incredibly fake with their content, especially where their posts about Maya are concerned. The comments themselves call this out.
- Big Bad: "The Ripple Man" is the Simulacrum of this game who preys on Kimera's influencers desperate to get rid of the controversial posts they've made to boost their reputations. It is the one responsible for killing Maya, and seeks to make her friends into its next victims.
- Body Horror: What happens to victims of The Ripple Man where their face tears open leaving a reddish black void.
- Bookends: The game begins and ends with all of the members of New Beginnings gathering together to take a group photo, although the ending photo has the deceased Maya absent. Also seems to fall under Rule of Symbolism - after all they've been through, the friendship between the group members is stronger than ever, and their newfound understanding of the consequences of their shallow lifestyle has truly provided them with a "new beginning".
- Call-Back: Early in the game, the player can read chat logs from Maya talking about a Spark date she went on with a creepy guy named Taylor.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: The central Aesop of the game. The whole mess happens because the four friends become so obsessed with keeping their social media presence, particularly on Kimera, fully positive that they fall prey to the deal offered by the Ripple Man to eliminate all criticism. Said deal led to the death of Maya, as it always includes a sacrifice. This same thing is also what happened to many other victims of the Ripple Man. Getting the good ending requires deleting the Kimera accounts of the characters, which was also what a previous near-victim, Charlie Asther, did to escape- he gave up all technology and fled to the woods. The article covering Charlie even brings up the negative effect that social media can have on mental health.
- Dead Person Conversation: Happens in the mid-game, when the player is investigating the individual characters to find out who killed Maya. Calling their phone numbers leads to Maya herself communicating with them by parroting their words back at them, only to warp them around and accuse them of killing her. Subverted, as this is the Ripple Man trying to trick you.
- Everyone Is a Suspect: After learning of the deal with The Ripple Man, this becomes true of all three main characters, as all of them have motives for taking the deal to boost their popularity. This turns out to not be the case, though; it was Maya herself, the victim, who made the deal.
- Exact Words: To make the ultimate deal with The Ripple Man, a sacrifice is required. Nowhere was it stated that the dealmaker would live to receive the reward in the first place.
- Fun with Acronyms: TRM, which stands for Tailored Reputation Management, and also "The Ripple Man."
- Gory Discretion Shot: Used in the video of Maya's death, where the screen becomes so corrupted that it's impossible to make out what's going on, although the screams of the main characters can be heard quite clearly.
- Multiple Endings: There are multiple endings. Which include variations of a Downer Ending where an influencer falls victim to The Ripple Man, the player's boss gets their careers ruined, and The Ripple Man essentially gets off scot free. A Golden Ending where the player manages to bring the influencers together and outsmarts The Ripple Man and your boss gets to keep their job, determined to corner The Ripple Man next time it appears. And a Sudden Downer Ending where if you fail the last sequence when all the influencers are gathered, The Ripple Man claims all three of them.
- Red Herring: The deal with The Ripple Man becomes this unless the player is particularly Genre Savvy - after learning about it, Detective Murilo immediately has the player begin investigating the three friends to see which one of them took the deal so that they can be apprehended. Despite all their hypocrisy and cattiness, none of them have done it - Maya was the one who took the deal and got herself killed in the first place. Paying too much attention to this aspect can cause the player to accidentally lock themselves out of the Golden Ending by railroading one of the other characters instead of convincing them all to work together.
- The Reveal: None of the living main characters took the deal with The Ripple Man; only Maya did. The sacrifice she unknowingly offered in order to boost her popularity was her own life.
- Revealing Continuity Lapse: The picture of Maya on the home screen becomes this if you're en route for one of the Bad Endings, as the more you drive the living characters apart, the more twisted and corrupted the picture of Maya becomes.
- Running Gag: It could be a little jarring at times, but Detective Murillo will occasionally message you on pure accident due to being Hopeless with Tech.
- Sequel Hook: No matter what ending you get, The Ripple Man escapes capture, with either your boss being more pessimistic in the Downer Ending or more determined and optimistic in the Golden Ending.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It's unclear what happened to Anna and Taylor from the first game as they don't appear to be mentioned in this one. This creates an Ambiguous Situation leaving players wondering which ending is canon. However, there are a few Call Backs:
- Taylor is actually mentioned in an early conversation Maya had with Arya, in which Maya mentions going on a date with some "creep" named Taylor who kept trying to get her to go up onto a rooftop.
- Detective Murillo will also refer to Anna (though not by name) when he mentions a case he worked where "someone got trapped in their phone".note