Her Story Created by Sam Barlow PC (reviewed) and mobile devices Released in 2015
Editor’s note: the quality of the pictures in this article are representative of the game. This is not a technical mistake on our part.
Being heavily focused on telling a story in a game can be a difficult task. Some can do it through interactions with the world through gameplay, others by choices that the game presents, and some by being a “walking-simulator”. After his work on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (a personal favorite of mine among the Silent Hill games), Sam Barlow left Climax Studios to become an indie-developer “in order to tell the types of stories that are neglected in the mainstream games industry.“. This is why I love indie developers; they try to create something interesting, personal, and unique. This game is no exception.
The title shows focus
Her Story is told through video-segments that you can find on an old computer, giving you hints and tips on the overall plot, as well as hidden extras for those that are more curious.
This story is told by a women being interrogated and it’s up to you to find out as much as your heart desires. This is all the info you will get as the game is deliberately focused on you connecting the dots, finding out what is going on and what has happened. This mystery is one of the story’s strongest points; it gives you plot-twists that you speculate upon and either confirms or shocks you. Having the opportunity to find out even more details than you needed gives the story more depth and many will connect the dots and discover the truth in different ways. The performance by Viva Seifert is well done, making me easily forget how awful the full-motion videos from the ’90s could be. Her acting is well done, the way of telling the story is interesting and unique due to how everyone will experience the game differently, and the script is believable. All of this comes together to give you a story that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Story score: 10/10
Sitting in front of your computer playing detective
The game starts up with an old computer-screen and a couple of videos shown on the desktop. You can watch each video, but you are limited to only the first 5 entries. You will then have to search for keywords and see if you find any new videos to watch to elaborate on what’s going on. Each clip can be taken notes on or tagged, unseen videos are marked with an eye and if you want to search for something you already have tried, you can showcase it in your log.
This is an interesting way of telling the story, by making you become the detective through taking notes, try to ask yourself the right questions, what to search for and put together the pieces. Even the concept of making you use a computer monitor, while playing on a computer (or on the phone) is a brilliant idea, making the experience feel more authentic. It might not be complicated or deep, but it’s certainly effective.
Gameplay score: 8/10
An authentic approach
The presentation isn’t really that good, but that is due to artistic decisions rather than anything else. The computer layout feels like something from the early ’90s and the videos are of low-quality with even a “glare-filter”, that luckily can be turned of. It makes everything feel authentic, but it’s not visually pleasing. The performance by our actress is well done, and if I may be so blunt: she has a lovely voice. The echo of the claustrophobic room she is being interrogated in is, again, understandable and works as an effect to make it feel realistic, but an option for better sound might have been welcomed.
This is almost a mixed bag: the style is understandable and is executed well enough to make it believable. But it is not technically pleasing in neither the sound or the graphics-area.
Presentation score: 7/10
Want to know more?
The game is quite short, with about 2 and a half hours of content if you only want to get the main-plot out of it. If, however, you want to know every single detail, it might take you about twice that length. This is also extra content that will be quite intriguing, since the story is that captivating and finding everything, as well as taking notes, is engaging. Also; despite having seen everything the game has to offer, it’s such a pleasant story with a unique and fun way of discovering it, that it actually will be something to come back to. Just like a really good movie, only with entertaining interaction.
There is even multiplayer. If you look into the rubbish-bin, you will find the board game Othello. It’s a weird extra and nothing special, but it’s there and is a nice break if you ever need a breather to think.
Extras score: 7/10
Her story is one of the most unique ways I have experienced storytelling. Everything feels so realistic and makes it an experience worth visiting at the very least once. Only the impatient ones won’t be able to appreciate Her story.