Given how many awards Her Story has received this year (some from BAFTA for example), I felt it was time to give the game a go, and see what all the fuss was about. I recall walking past the game at EGX Rezzed 2015, but didn’t think much of it due to its lacklustre appearance. I mean, who wouldn’t? You’re in a tiny room with hundreds of other games making loud noises and packed full of action and explosions, and all you see on this one monitor is an artistic impression of an old CRT monitor, complete with scaliness and reflections, with nothing more than a lady talking on it. I’m sure many others would walk past too.
But boy ‘ol boy was I a fool. After spending the best part of an entire evening with my other half playing through Her Story, I can say I’m a fool for not giving it a look sooner.
Her Story revolves entirely around a series of police interviews with a suspect. You’re given no context about the reasons the person in question is a suspect, or even what has happened for their to be an investigation, you’re just presented with a PC monitor, a database piece of software, and some instructions on how to use it.
You proceed to watch the first 5 videos already brought up within the database, and from there you start to build up a picture of what has happened. From these tidbits of information recovered from the tapes you just watched you can proceed to search for new terms in the database. A lot of the recordings you find may lead nowhere – sometimes they’re not giving more context on the current line of thinking you may have, other times they’re 2-3 seconds long and only contain a recording of the lady saying “yes” or “no”.
But it’s in this mystery and lack of context that Her Story really stands out from the crowd. My other half really got into the idea of being a detective, picking apart everything the lady said to try and distinguish what we should search for next. Some clues may lead nowhere, but others feel like going down the rabbit hole, revealing a whole new point to the investigation you had never thought of before.
The lack of hearing questions pushed at the lady also helps to keep a sense of mystery throughout, with your own mind having to be the conduit for which you try and order everything together. Tapes are mixed, and depending on which search terms you use, convoluted, making for an interesting and ever lasting hunger for more information.
I’m not going to spoil anything about the story or the game, as that’s a huge part of what makes Her Story so incredible to experience. Should you already know terms or story points before you go in, you lose the mystery and as a result, are able to separate yourself from the investigative experience Her Story so greatly encapsulates. Suffice to say, what you get from the story is certainly fantastic, with many plot points giving you aha! moments that expand your understanding of the events that happened.
The acting of the actress was fantastic, with me an my other half truly getting a sense that these were real tapes with real questions being asked. The story, too has done an absolutely fantastic job of building this world up from scratch just through this ladies answers to questions we never hear. It’s insane to think these places and people don’t exist in real life, as the attention to detail about everything is staggering.
One touch I did like was that Her Story is open ended; there is no conclusion to the story, no grand cut-scene that explains everything in chronological order, you’re simply asked if you’ve seen enough to understand what happened. It’s up to you, yourself to determine if you’ve seen enough of the tapes and have enough context to know what happened in 1994.
You know what? I’ve been racking my brain for the last 15 minutes trying to think of a negative for Her Story and genuinely can’t come up with one. It knows what kind of game it wants to be, and never deviates from the course, creating one of the most sophisticated and brilliant games of the last few years. Because of this paragraph alone, I’m pushing the 4/5 I originally gave it up to a 5/5.
So, Her Story is genuinely fantastic. I can say without doubt that the game has won me over, and I can understand why it won as many awards as it did. Should you have 3-4 hours free one evening, and have a PC, iPad or Android tablet, give the game a download; you won’t be disappointed.