Her Story: Review (No Spoilers)

TL;DR Plot Synopsis:

You’re allowed access to a police database housing information about a murder that occurred back in ’94. Through a series of taped interviews, you piece together what happened in the case.
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TL;DR Review:

The most interesting and engaging game I’ve played in some time. An excellent mystery and an interesting take on what it means to tell a story.
Play It If:
  • you like mystery games
  • you like narrative games
  • you don’t like games, but you love a good story
Skip It If:
  • you don’t like “interactive movies”
  • fragmented storytelling drives you crazy
  • you want definite answers and clear endings

Review

Once again, I’m playing a game that entered my radar from a mystery source. (New goal this year: Take note of where I hear about games when adding them to my to-play list.)

Regardless of where the recommendation came from, it was a good one. Her Story has everything I love in a game: good story, engaging gameplay, interesting examinations of narrative, mystery, lady characters, and the list goes on. These qualities, while wonderful for me, may be deal-breakers for more traditional gaming fans. Because classifying Her Story as a game feels wrong, somehow. It’s more along the lines of an interactive novel, but is different from any other interactive novel/playable movie that I’ve ever played.

Her Story defies simple classification – something Logan ran into when he was trying to sort it into our gaming library. He likes to separate everything by genre, and we were stuck. Yes, it’s a mystery. That’s an easily defined and very clear genre, but our categories are based off of gameplay, not theme or mood. So what is Her Story? It doesn’t fit with all the other games in the visual and interactive novel category. It’s certainly none of the traditional formats like shooter, platformer, or rogue-like. We ended up making a whole new category, simply labeled “other.”

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Logan and I both played Her Story, kind of together and kind of separate. I played it first, alone in case Logan decided he wanted to play it so he wouldn’t have any massive spoilers. Three hours and one brain melt later, I was “done” and told him he had to give it a go — and I wanted to watch.

Since the way you move through the game is typing in keywords that you come up with, I wondered if we would have different experiences based off what we picked up on and what order we moved through the video clips. Not only did we have different experiences, we had wildly different experience, to the point that we bickered about what really happened. Watching him move through the various clips was fascinating, as he picked up on completely different keywords than I did, so he unlocked many clips I hadn’t seen, and the clips I had seen in a completely different order. His theory on what really happened was so far away from mine that at first, I thought he was pulling my leg.

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We had a great time debating and discussing our theories and I eventually brought him around to my point of view, but he certainly made me think about the case a little harder. And that’s what was so great about the game – it really makes you think. And it brought some lively discussion into the house, which is always a good thing.

I really can’t recommend Her Story enough. It’s inexpensive and could probably run on a fancy toaster, so your computer is going to be able to handle it just fine. Give it a shot. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

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