Release Date: June 24, 2015
You play a person who is reviewing a series of one-sided police interviews in order to find out the truth about the woman in them. You’ll do this by typing terms into a search bar to bring up Full-Motion Videos with a real-life actress, thus officially combining movies with video games (probably).
Playability 2.8 of 4: The game is played by typing words into a search engine and seeing what comes up. It has to be a word that the woman says in any of the interviews. From there you begin to piece together the story of this FMV game. However, you can only see the first five entries in the system where our mysterious woman said whatever word you put in. It doesn’t hold your hand at all, but it’s so simple that you’ll understand how to play the game within a few minutes. This makes the story something that you have to discover on your own through related searches.
It does give you one clue when you start the game, the word “Murder” is written in the search bar for you. The only problem is that some of the scenes need searches that are especially obscure. It can end with you feel like you just have to keep replaying the same scenes over and over again looking for a clue you missed, or just randomly guessing words until you get a scene you haven’t viewed yet, which kind of takes the fun out of solving a mystery for me.
Fun Factor 2.4 of 3: This game does something better than any other game I’ve played, it really makes you feel like a detective. I mean, there are many games that do that, I just think this one does it better. It’s because you have to figure everything out completely on your own. Even Return of the Obra Djinn had moments that were basically spelled out for you. Here you have to find the facts of the case and ultimately come to your own conclusions.
The part I don’t really like is the end game, after you have about 75% or so of the database you will likely know everything about the overall story, but, if you’re like me, you’ll be searching wildly to find the rest of the scenes in the hope that you’re going to find a missing clue that shines yet another light over the whole thing. You won’t, there’s just an awful lot of scenes where she only says a few words. The reason for having these, but also not giving many clues on what words to search for these almost wordless scenes, makes trying to find them all very frustrating, especially when there’s nothing more to find, information-wise.
Story 1 of 1: This is where Her Story really shines. Though, as someone pointed out online, if you watched it all in the order it was filmed, it would be a very slow paced story that then reveals everything very clearly at the end. But since you have to find everything out yourself, everything is revealed to you only as you find the relevant clues until everything is blown wide open. It’s also written in such a way that behaving like me and sometimes just searching random words like “is” won’t be enough to get real information. Also, even though one interpretation of events is laid out for you in the story, it’s not entirely obvious if this is what we should believe really happened. There might be another mystery locked inside this mystery game.
Graphics and Sound 1 of 1: This is another one of those things where less is more. It has a style of using an old computer and there’s a grainy effect throughout, along with occasionally seeing your character’s reflection in the screen. And, though the sound tends to be ones of an old computer, it perfectly encapsulates what it should as your trying to figure out this woman’s story. I also want to compliment the music, which goes back and forth between a simple piano and something more electronic sounding, but it gives the game an interesting feel that heightens the story itself.
Originality 1 of 1: Well, having replay value as the final category is just an automatic zero for most mystery and adventure games so I think I’m going to change the last category on a game-by-game basis. Anyway, for mystery games I think one of the standout points is how unique they are in how they present their story. Unlike most genres of game, they essentially have to work backwards, just like a mystery book would, and the presentation of that is even more important games than in other media. This is because the player is doing everything themselves. If your mystery feels like it’s basically automated, like in L.A. Noire where nothing the player does seems to really matter, then that either isn’t a good mystery game or there’s other things going on to make up for it, such as L.A. Noire still being a fun open world to run around in.
Sorry, don’t mean to be dissing a game I haven’t reviewed yet. My point is this game really makes you feel like a detective and it does that through it’s amazing and yet very simple presentation. I know it’s not a game a lot of people would enjoy, but I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.