Are we not drawn onward to new era?
Dammit, I'm MadIt's not often I start a review by advising the reader to stop reading it as soon as possible. But before I even transmit the basic elements that make up the structure of Her Story I will do exactly that. There will be no major spoilers unleashed here but if at any point you think you might be interested, stop reading immediately, avoid any extensive Google searches or other media regarding the game and simply experience it first hand for yourself.
Put succinctly Her Story is an FMV (Full Motion Video) game which gives you access to a database of short video clips taken from several fictional interviews with a woman being interrogated by the police. You use a search engine to trawl the database and discover the truth about the disappearance of her husband.
Stop reading immediately
Won't lovers revolt now?Set in 1994 the interface evokes the windows 95 desktop feeling perfectly, subtly recreating elements like reflections of strip lighting behind you on the monitor and the constant whine of the 386 grey box; presumably hidden beneath a messy desk in a dusty police archive room somewhere.
A few readme files give you some instructions but in this age of pervasive internet connectivity the fundamental technique of using a search engine is a ubiquitous format that requires minimal hand holding. Each short clip in the database has been transcribed so a given search term will bring up every clip where said word was used. Clips are displayed in chronological order and you can only view the first 5 results at any one time. This makes broad search terms largely useless and leaves you following the various threads that get slowly revealed.
It doesn't take long to to pull you in, buoyed entirely by a realistic performance from Viva Seifert, what begins as an intriguing mystery evolves into an engaging exploration of the central character and the twisting events that surround her. The beauty of Her Story is that from the moment you search your first word you are moments away from uncovering the giant pillars of the story; but once you piece together the events, a more important question emerges. You realise you don't just want to know what happened, you need to know why it happened. So you keep digging for more.
You realise don't just want to know what happened, you need to know why it happened.
Live not on evilFollowing the trail of breadcrumbs is additive and occasionally shocking and rewarding. Hitting upon a relevant search term which opens up a whole new line of enquiry, or straight up dumps a significant part of the story into your lap, delivers a great feeling of discovery which easily keeps you searching throughout the short run time.
The game doesn't really end, a few signs indicate you have probably seen as much there is to see and a menu gives you a simple graphical representation of how many of the clips you have seen; but eventually you will simply have a decent sense of what happened. It doesn't answer all your questions and you can now hit that real search engine and join the plentiful discussions and theorising on exactly what it all means, in fact it's entirely possible you might spend more time thinking about and discussing the game than actually playing it.
You might spend more time thinking about and discussing the game than actually playing it.
- Excellent character performance
- Uncovering the story yourself
- Unexpected twists
- Very Short
- Little closure
Her Story PC ReviewHer story is a smartly constructed game of narrative discovery; cleverly wearing its pop culture influences like the Serial podcast and HBO's True Detective on its sleeve, while giving you control over how you uncover the winding plot. Allowing you to feel the satisfaction of following leads and drawing conclusions from snippets of information. The interface is grounded and familiar and the story throws some interesting twists and turns, leaving you wanting more.
Some might argue there is little "game" here and it's more of a lightly interactive experience, they wouldn't be wrong, but by dismissing it off hand they would be depriving themselves of an entertaining, fun, head scratching few hours. All qualities I look for in a good game.
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