It’s actually been a while since I’ve played any sort of game with full motion video in it (aside from Command & Conquer: Red Alert, but that game has FMV cutscenes; I’m talking about a game that heavily involves FMV as a focus in the gameplay…think Night Trap from the Sega CD days). I noticed, however, that while going through the Steam store at the time, I noticed a newly released indie game that had a lot of good reviews overall: Her Story, developed by lone developer Sam Barlow.
Her Story is about the player, who peruses an old police computer that has a fragmented database with over 300 video clips of an English woman. This woman is interviewed seven times by the police about her husband’s murder, but due to the damage to the database, only the clips where the woman is talking survived. Searching the clips by keyword, your job is to find all of the video clips in order to restore the database and find out the exact details of the crime.
Simple? Yes. Easy? Not by a long shot. As many clips can be found by simple keywords, often you’ll find that you need to be specific with keywords in order to narrow down clips that you still need to find, as the computer interface only allows the first five clips to be viewed if your search turned up more than five clips at a time. It seems like an easy task at first but things start getting tough when you start to run out of ideas for keywords to search with, especially when some keywords pull up a lot of clips that you have seen before. It can be very frustrating but the payoff is very nice, as many of the more important clips reveal more to the story. However, this leads me to my first piece of criticism: there are too many clips that have absolutely no bearing on the story whatsoever. I mean, the game get insanely tedious after a few hours because of the multitude of clips that are simply there for filler. I will admit that I had to split game sessions up because of how bored I got after a while trying to search for new clips. If there were far fewer clips to go through, that would have been fine, and I still would have gotten a lot out of the game. The tedium of searching through dummy clips, though, didn’t really add to the gameplay very much. The story itself has a number of interesting twists. As you go through the more important clips, you’ll find some interesting things about the woman in the interviews. The biggest twist comes at the very end of the game, which is what makes the payoff so well.
Her Story was a pleasant experience to play through with a well-written story, but the boring number of clips to go through forced me to play in sessions due to the rather large number of irrelevant clips. Beyond that, I recommend giving this game a spin. Unfortunately, it’s only good for a single playthrough. For the very low price of $5.99, Her Story is found on Steam and directly from the game’s website, and for $4.99 on the iTunes App Store (for iOS).
Verdict: 8/10 (Sink Your Fangs)
+ Compelling and engaging story with interesting plot twists || + Simple yet difficult gameplay
= Only good for a single playthrough, but the story leaves a lasting impression
– Too many irrelevant clips || – Game gets boring trying to guess new keywords after a while