Her Story – a puzzle worth solving – Review

Gare – Tuesday, July 7, 2015 11:52 PM
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Her Story is quite an interesting case of narrative structure in video games, and looking at some screenshots, you’re probably wondering what the deal is with the title, considering it does indeed look like a live action movie. Well, that’s the thing. It is mostly a series of live action clips with minimal amounts of interactivity, but that’s also what makes Her Story a fascinating experience, provided you’re willing to try something different from the norm – it also helps to mention that the game comes to us from the creator of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, so an interesting story is more or less guaranteed.

One murder, dozens of archived clips

Her Story kicks off with a clear mystery: a murder occurred in 1994, and you’re sitting in front of a computer trying to figure out who did it and why. In order to do this, you’ll spend the majority of your time looking through archived footage of the murdered man’s wife, who was called in for questioning by the police. There are dozens upon dozens of short clips to watch (in the style of FMV games that gained popularity during the 90s), each revealing tiny fragments of information regarding the woman’s backstory and the circumstances of the crime – each sentence, each statement providing you with an another piece of the puzzle to fit into the whole picture. Her Story’s gameplay then relies on you listening to what’s being said, jotting down key information and using the words as search terms to look up additional clips.

Search, investigate, discover

Now, the interesting part about this is that it’s completely up to the player to decide which clips to watch, in what order, and – most important of all – what words to search for and when. Such a completely non-linear way of storytelling allows the plot to unfold in accordance with the player’s own train of thought – you may run into some dead ends, try to connect one event to another in your head, and eventually have a certain “A-ha!” moment when the pieces align and you get a clearer picture of what actually happened; you may even revisit older clips with your freshly-acquired knowledge to see them in a different light. This is, of course, all optional, and that’s the beauty of it, really – after about three or so hours (even without watching every single clip), I was able to piece together what really happened on that fateful day.

A puzzle worth solving

As much of Her Story’s strengths lie in its ability to weave an engaging mystery and let the player organically piece it all together in his or her mind, revealing even tiny bits of what’s in store for you would rob you of the full experience. Nonetheless, Her Story is a cleverly put together adventure game that, while somewhat lacking in the gameplay department, will most likely engage anyone looking for a bit of speculation and detective work. Just don’t forget to bring pen and paper – you’ll need it.

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