Over the last few years, there have been a few mobile games that use the cell phone interface itself as a way to play.
There’s boy-flirt-extravaganza Mystic Messenger, which takes place within an instant messaging app. You could try to unlock a stranger’s phone in A Normal Lost Phone, and go through the emails, texts and photos of the same stranger to figure out their story. Perhaps you’ve played Lifeline, in which you are in contact with a lost astronaut, stranded Matt-Damon-style on an inhospitable planet. This last one actually had Apple Watch functionality, so you could pretend to be a cool secret agent.
Then, there’s Bury Me, My Love, a game about a Syrian migrant named Nour trying to find a better life in Europe, as told through the texts between her and her husband. Originally released at the end of 2017, Bury Me, My Love is based on true stories—most prominently the story of Dana, featured in a piece by Le Monde journalist Lucie Soullier, “The journey of a Syrian migrant through her Whatsapp thread.”
The title, Bury Me, My Love, is an Arabic expression. “[It] means ‘Take care,’ ” the developer website reads. “ ‘Don’t even think about dying before I do.’. You might say it to a loved one, before going separate ways.”
Throughout the game, you play as Majd, the husband of refugee Nour. Notifications will appear on your phone in “pseudo real-time,” and most of them will task you with helping Nour make decisions. Should she stay and wait? Should she leave and risk being discovered? Should she take the boat? The truck? Should she walk across the borders that threaten to send her back?
She won’t always listen to you. She won’t even tell you everything. And on your end—Majd’s end—you don’t always have all the answers, either.
Bury Me, My Love came out on Nintendo Switch on January 10, and although I think the phone interface is definitely the best way to play it, since it adds to the realistic storytelling technique, I think you should play this game any way you can.