When I first learned of Her Story by Sam Barlow (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Aisle), I was instantly drawn in. Not only does the game star a woman, but it’s an FMV game with a true crime theme – three of my favorite things. Sam calls it a desktop thriller. Watch the trailer:
Viva Seifert is the actress whose performance anchors the game, and she’s fantastic. This is a return to the FMV of the 90s, but she’s got a lot of subtleties in her acting that something like, say, The 7th Guest couldn’t portray. You’re not told who you are, but sometimes get flashes of your reflection as the old CRT monitor glitches out and lights shift in the background. You can turn the reflective effects off, but I left them on, as I found it more immersive. The desktop is fully interactive; you can move your windows and icons as you please. The entirety of gameplay is done by typing in keywords to uncover more video clips. Since you’re using the guest account, you can only see five clips at a time, so you need to be more specific to see everything regarding that keyword.
As you delve deeper into the mystery of this cold case, it becomes useful to have a physical pencil and paper at your side – I wrote down every keyword I could think of while playing so I could remember what I wanted to try. Thinking like a detective is important here. I will not spoil any story here, because that would ruin the fun of the game; indeed, this will be the most fun for curious people. Due to the nature of the keyword searching, the story is told in an entirely non-linear fashion. My “a-ha” moments are probably going to come at a different time than everyone else’s, depending on how you want to follow the threads, which is really cool – I can’t wait to talk about Her Story with other people. The way the game doles out information to you, piece by tantalizing piece, is what made me sit down and finish it in a single day – I couldn’t leave the case unsolved. It took me about three hours to uncover everything. Get this game immediately if you love a good story – and especially if you’re a bit of a voyeuristic armchair detective like me.
Check out the official website, Sam Barlow’s Twitter, the game’s Facebook, and get it on Steam or GOG for $4.99. You can also get it from the official site and Humble Bundle. It’s for PC, Mac, iPhone, and iPad. For this review, I played the PC Steam version.
[Disclaimer: A review code was provided for me to review this game.]