Gaming - Her Story

The Defective Inspector investigates some of the IGF Indie Award nominees. Here is his Case File for Her Story...

I don’t want to write this review, I really don’t. It has nothing to do with the calibre of the game at all, in fact I liked this game a fair bit! But to enjoy the game you should rely on your own keen ability to bring the pieces together to form a full picture and… Well that’s basically my job as a reviewer. However being nominated for Excellence in Narrative, Excellence in Design and the elusive Nuovo Award forces my hand. But what what is this? The Papa Smurf of the IGF, the Seumas McNally Grand Prize?! Well I’ll have to write SOMETHING! I’ll do my best to be detailed but vague at the same time… Somehow.

So what is Her Story? That’s a loaded question, mainly because Her Story is a game where you unravel just that, Her Story. You (the player) have been given access to an antiquated PC software which seems to hold the key to an unusual crime. For reasons not immediately clear you have been given guest access to a one sided interview tapes which excluded every question given by the interviewer. Using your wits, observational skills and years of intense googling you must find out what the hell is going on!

Excellence in Narrative

The reason this game has been nominated for Excellence in Narrative is because the story is really clever. No matter which way you uncover aspects of Her Story there is always more to find with twists to reveal. I can’t write much more than that, it’ll be too revealing, but I shall emphasise this is a well-deserved nomination in a game overflowing with counter points and backstory that would make M. Night Shyamalan scratch his head. Consider this, if the plot was simple I would be happy to tell you more.

Excellence in Design and Nuovo Award

I’ve had to bunch these 2 nominations together because, in complete honesty, I’ve never played a game like this and I feel this does come down to design. The idea of bringing someone back to an old PC system to uncover a lost tale was a genius move by Sam Barlow. But this isn’t the only clever bit of design! You can tell when this game was first made and the video footage was being recorded they spent months just editing the footage to the right length. The lengthening and shortening of videos to the precise time must have be arduous until it was perfect. The additional restriction of how many search results can be seen against how many results were given was again genius. Knowing if I searched the term “Simon” I’d get 60+ results but was restricting to watching only 5 was a special form of gaming torture. Another clever move is a lack of tutorial, usually this is a criticism however this game wants you to be drawn in and thus adding things like tutorials reminds you it’s just a game. By the end of my “game time” I genuinely felt engrossed in Her Story like it was a real thing. I have no shame in admitting I checked online to see if the story was true or not! Okay maybe a little bit of shame…

Seumas McNally Grand Prize

The hazard of saying too much increases with every word… The Grand Prize is given to those who excel in nearly every aspect, to be something beyond the normal and make people look up and go “Wow, that’s impressive”. So is Her Story impressive? I like to think so. There is a compelling storyline, a unique way of playing the game, an inviting concept and all done off the back of one story. There was one critism I wanted to defend on behalf of the game, I’ve read in the bounty of Steam Reviews that someone thought the graphics were “grainy and outdated”. OF COURSE THEY BLOODY ARE! It’s meant to be 90s VHS footage digitally uploaded onto Not-Windows 3.not 1. FOOLISH YOUTH KNOW NOTHING!

-Phew- I better calm down otherwise I may write more than I want to, and I really do want to discuss more. In fact if any of you complete the game, e-mail me so I can talk to SOMEONE about it. I want to discuss the plot! I REALLY DO! Unless you are the foolish youth… Your lack of knowing is not appreciated in my inbox.

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