For today’s indie game review I’m taking a look at Her Story by Sam Barlow, creator of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Aisle.
After watching the trailer I sat here scratching my head in intrigue.
Her Story really is a truly unique affair. You’re not blowing people up or jumping on Goombas. Instead you sit and listen to a woman talk about a murder.
Obviously for this game to hold together it needs a narrative on the level of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The story goes a little-bit like this.
The woman (played by Viva Seifert) was interviewed by the police several times back in 1994, after her husband went missing. She doesn’t know if he’s run away, missing, or dead. The police interviews were recorded and have been broken up into hundreds of clips. The interviews delve deep into this girl’s personal life. And the purpose of it all is to determine whether this woman is involved with the murder.
Does the woman have something to do with her husband’s disappearance? Is this the inverse of Gone Girl?
Well, no. This definitely is not the inverse of Gone Girl, or anything like that flick–which ultimately turned out to be as hammy as tinned spam.
Back to Her Story.
To play the game you simply watch the clips and piece the story together. There are hundreds of clips of the female character (Viva Seifert) but a lot of them are just 10 seconds long. Your mission is to watch the clips and piece together the story like the finest of Dick Tracy-wannabes.
Given that you’re going to be watching tons of clips all showing the same woman, you might wonder: How’s Viva Seifert’s performance?
My old acting teacher would say she was “in the moment”. But he was a bit of a stuffy old sod (only joking, I love you Mr. Robson).
Seifert produces a realistic portrayal of her character. There were times when I found her performance a little forced, but for the most part Seifert’s acting is natural and believable. She gets you into the story. And her role is imperative. Honestly, had she put in a bad performance I would have quit this game after a minute.
But the story and the acting are both decent. And so I continues my investigation of the wherefore and whereofs of this woman’s missing husband.
The first thing to strike me about Her Story is how completely self-dependent you’re made to be. There’s no guidance, no clues… it’s up to you to piece everything together.
When you start playing you’re given nothing. One big blank slate. It’s entirely up to you where you go and how well you do in solving the case. And in my experience that’s a good thing, because everytime you uncover something you know you’ve uncovered it for yourself. There were many times when I gleefully clapped my hands, having unravelled a piece of the mystery.
Probably my favourite aspect of Her Story is the realism with which it portrays the role of being a detective.
What makes Her Story so realistic is the way in which it throws you in at the deep end. The story is non-linear and there are hundreds of different clips to sort through. Thankfully you’re only ever shown a few clips at a time, so you’re never left wading through hordes of footage looking for one scene like a needle in a haystack.
At times you’ll find trails running cold and you’ll sit staring at the screen wondering what to do. By diligently searching through different aspects of the characters lives (by typing words like “Job,” for instance), you’ll piece together the clues and begin to uncover the story.
During the case I was changing my mind as frequently as a pop star changes clothing. Becoming familiar with the main character’s personal life, childhood dreams, obsessions, and adventures, I felt like an old detective rifling through clues while downing whisky.
Her Story is a truly unique experience that will channel your inner-Holmes. This is definitely worthy of your consideration. Check out Her Story on Steam.