Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: Her Story (PC)

I try not to play games on the PC: it's difficult to play because I get distracted by e-mail and other work. The high resolution and close seating position of the PC means that even though I have a relatively powerful PC, it can't quite drive the display at high enough resolutions that I get a satisfying experience without spending more money on graphics cards, which I'm not prepared to do.

Her Story, however, is an exception. First of all, it's a game completely driven by the keyboard. That means that the PS4 (or any other console) would be a poor experience. Secondly, it's deliberately shot in low definition video, so doesn't depend on high resolution for an experience. Finally, it's short: I finished it in a matter of a couple of hours, and it's fun enough for me to recommend.

The game sits you down before a 1995 era police database/computer. By typing search terms into the computer, you get access to video clips of various police interviews with a woman who starts off by coming in to report her missing husband. You then use search terms to follow threads of investigation to figure out what happened.

The story and investigative process is actually interesting: sometimes your query terms exceed the number of results that can be displayed on screen, and the game restricts you to only 5. So you end up refining the search terms in order to uncover more of the story. Your thoughts about the investigations start changing as you come up with and then discard various hypothesis and follow through. My one criticism is that I didn't think the actress was actually very good: some of her mannerisms were a little forced.

I was wondering how I was going to figure out whether I was done with the game (i.e., I was running out of things to discover), when the game figured that out and hit me with an IM which told me about who was sitting in front of the computer. After the credits roll, you're given a key with which to unlock more search results, which led me to go back through my search history to find pieces which I had missed, and also gave me a nice history of my investigation and thought process.

Her Story is priced at $5.99 on Steam. I picked it up for $3.84 during a sale, and at that price, it's at least as good as any movie rental I've made over the past years. Recommended.
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