Her Story (PC [reviewed], iOS)
Developer: Sam Barlow
Publisher: Sam Barlow
MSRP: $5.99 (Currently on sale on Steam)
Released: June 24, 2015
Over the years hundreds of tens of gamers have tried their hands at full-motion video (FMV) games, and the vast majority of our experiences have ranged from forgettable to atrocious. That said, I have a deep-seeded and irrational love for the Sega CD… and I did enjoy Sewer Shark when it first came out. Nonetheless, FMV games are difficult to script for traditional game play, and a different approach was necessary to improve on what so many had gotten wrong in the past. Her Story is one such example, pushing game narratives into a new and possibly amazing direction. Set in the English town of Portsmouth, the title “character” begins the game using what looks like the UI of a late 90’s/early 2000’s police research database. Not a spoiler *Hint: whatever you do, do not switch off the glare!
You begin the game with your search engine already filled with the word “murder”, leaving the player to begin their research and path down the rabbit hole. The videos are clips of VHS tapes, and all are transcribed and subtitled to help the database pick out clips based on your search term(s). Clips do not play in order, so it’s important to use the handy memo box when you select a given clip to take notes and keep facts in order. I even had a notebook where I wrote down information to help keep the story in order for myself. Players learn quickly there may be more to these interviews than your first search would reveal, and each search lead to more questions.
It’s difficult to review this game without giving away spoilers, so I’ll refrain from revealing specific details and stick to game mechanics. Her Story is not your typical adventure game, but if you’ve ever wanted to insert yourself into the detective chair, this is the game for you. The story is gripping and skillfully crafted, and each twist left me a little uneasy in my seat. Piecing together the events out of order was incredibly fun, though unnerving at times (which was awesome). Unlike most games (especially mysteries), Her Story explores the idea of an open-ended finale, allowing the player to discover as much as they can without a guarantee of a slam dunk answer. I watched many clips multiple times to deduce the information I needed to seal the case for myself.
Her Story is not an action packed game, but where it lacks in action it definitely makes up for in solid storytelling and atmosphere. My play through was relatively short (clocked in at a little under 3 hours). Play times may vary based on your memory as well as how quickly you can piece together the clues (AKA-note taking ability). If you’re looking for a thoroughly engaging interactive experience, I thoroughly enjoyed Her Story and highly recommend it!
4.5 out of 5 Geeks