Developed by Sam Barlow
Published by Sam Barlow
Available On PC, iOS
Her Story is far from a typical game. There are a great many arguments that could be made toward its gameplay and scenario that stray far from convention. Although unusual, these differences make for a compelling experience. Her Story uses multiple strengths to make a game unlike any other in recent memort and for that reason alone it is worth trying. That it revives a old gaming convention and makes it new again, is just icing on the cake.
The less you know, the more you will enjoy the strange world of Her Story. When confronted with what seems to be an old Windows 95 machine and a few prompts, it will take only a little while to get adjusted. Apparently someone has made a search in the computer for ‘Murder’. Not only does this string lead to the first of many interviews with a mysterious woman, but also shows how to move forward. Forward, in this case, means unlocking more interviews.
FMV or Full-motion video was first introduced into gaming in the mid-eighties. Her Story uses a performance from a real actor, to tell the story of an unsolved murder. Apparently this woman is a suspect in her husband’s death and this footage will unravel the mystery. As more videos are discovered, more details bubble to the surface. In some of the videos she is wearing a different shirt. In another she has a tattoo. In others, she has a guitar and seems more free-spirited. All the little details uncover the true story.
Creator Sam Barlow has experience with abnormal stories, after all he worked on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Here he has created a game in which the main focus is watching videos and taking notes to unravel a mystery. Specific words become the key to unlocking more of the story and depending on what order they are discovered can lead to a very different experience to anyone playing Her Story.
No matter how the clips are uncovered, it all leads to plenty of twists. One minute you’ll wonder whether a friend or relative were involved, the next an entirely different story thread will unfold. The game features a database checker that actually keeps track of how many of the videos have been uncovered. Also, clips can be stored for later use to revisit vital scenes or to analyze to unlock new segments. The game stops players from just entering a common word and unlocking all the videos, as players are only given the top five results for a particular word string.
Once enough videos are uncovered, the player is given the option of ending the game. At that particular point, you might’ve put together the clues. There is no neat ending, nothing that summarizes exactly what happened. It is left to the player to determine the story themselves. If a mystery still remains, it pushes players to continue to find the remaining videos. When fewer videos remain it becomes even harder to uncover them.
Her Story is a fascinating experiment in gaming. While not a traditional game in any sense, there is still a sense of risk/reward and plenty to unlock. It won’t be to everyone’s liking by any means, but those that give themselves over to the story and mystery should have plenty of memorable moments.