|Release DateJun 24, 2015|
Her Story grants players access to a police database of archived video footage that covers seven interviews from 1994 in which a British woman is interviewed by detectives about her missing husband. Players take on the role of the person sat before a police computer terminal, their own computer playing the part of the fictional one. In an emotional speech on Wednesday night, McEnany shared the deeply personal story about her diagnosis with the BRCAII genetic mutation ‒ a mutation that put her chances of breast cancer at 84.
Her Story has made me obsessed with detail.
The latest game from Sam Barlow, the developer behind Aisle and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Her Story is a true-crime-style mystery. You uncover fictitious police interviews and piece together the truth behind a crime — essentially a 'fly on the wall' kind of scenario, in which your greatest power is that of observation. Clarity is your goal, but at best it's the kind of after-the-fact sort seen in a rear-view mirror.
The game's aesthetic exists somewhere between simple and purposefully low-rent. Everything is made to feel old, fuzzy and ultimately clouded — Her Story is a search for truth, but leaves you to wonder whose truth that is. It's simple, effective and brilliantly frustrating.
At its core, Her Story is about a woman and her missing husband. The year is 1994, and she's brought in for a series of interviews regarding the incident and her involvement. But these interviews are available only in pieces — short clips lasting anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, containing only her responses to unheard questions — and are only accessible by searching specific words or phrases in a simulated database.
You know her side of the story, now learn his. 'It was useless. I felt branded beneath my skin by a girl who left without even saying goodbye.' When Will Price was assigned a partner for a sixth grade class project he had no idea she would become his best friend. MAC Her Story 58 YEARS OF SISTERHOOD, SCHOLARSHIP AND SERVICE. The Montclair Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Was chartered on May 6, 1962.
you can't use it to game the system — I know because I tried
Much of my time was spent playing on a virtual desktop. Her Story's look is retro chic in the sense that it provides a perfect '90s-era operating system to work on. I booted up the police's archival footage, and then attempted to pull information based on educated guesses. A search for 'husband' for example, is likely to yield hefty results, but I was limited to the first five entries. This meant I had to be clever about how I searched, as well as detailed in observations. After viewing each file, I could personally label it with information and store it, which made it easy to come back to.
Her Story's limited search system uses its restrictions well. It reacts to any word spoken in a given interview, but you can't use it to game the system. I know because I tried — I searched generic words in everyday speech, in one case even pulling back 60 results or more, but was unable to actually cheat this way. Instead, I had to be intuitive. Did the woman mention a name or location I hadn't searched yet? Was she exhibiting any kind of behavior that I could translate into search terms? It was a challenge that proved to be both thrilling and satisfying; I'd get stuck for several minutes before a light bulb moment and a flood of new clips.
Despite its focus on listening to someone else's words, Her Story is very much about personal victory. My cleverness was rewarded with new content. The story unfolds entirely at your discretion, and it doesn't always paint a cohesive narrative. A simple database tracker helped me figure out how many videos I'd uncovered, and how many I had left to go, through different colored tiles. That left me to piece together the story as best I could, filling in the gaps with context and intuition. It also guarantees that each experience will be different; with more than 200 videos to find, it's hard to imagine that many people will watch the narrative unfold exactly how I did.
I typically loathe arguing about what constitutes a video game, but Her Story feels like something else entirely. That's not because it isn't engaging, entertaining or even fun — it's all those things, many times over. But it's less about player agency and more intent on your ability to listen. The potential for failure is one of your own making; there's an 'end' to the game, of course, but how mentally satisfied you are with the experience is on your sleuthing ability.
Her Story stays with you
It's been days since I finished the game, but I can’t stop thinking about it. Her Story nails the dark, voyeuristic nature of true crime and the curiosity that follows. Like a frenzied fan, all I want to do is pore over more videos, more facts, more conspiracy theories until I feel as though I've unraveled the game's very code itself. The worst thing I can say about Her Story is that, eventually, there's nothing else left to find.
Her Story was reviewed using Steam copy provided by Sam Barlow. You can find additional information about Polygon's ethics policy here.About Polygon's Reviews
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Her Story Barbara Machaffie
“Her Story is a beautiful amalgam of the cinema and video game formats…
a remarkable achievement in creating something which is personal, cinematic and playful.”
In 1994 a British woman is interviewed seven times
about her missing husband. This is her story.
PC • MAC • iPad • iPhone • Android
Read more about Her Story in these recent interviews:
“All you have is video of a woman talking to the cops. Is she guilty?”
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“Her Story: the computer game where True Detective meets Google”
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“Text, Lies And Videotape: Her Story Interview”
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“Her Story is a Serial-style mystery, blending FMV and adventure games”
The development of Her Story was made possible thanks to the support of