Her Story may seem like a cheap puzzle game trying to be deep, but here’s the catch – it’s dark, and sad, and eerie, and everything that goes wrong in the world. I was flabbergasted when I found out that Sam Barlow, the brilliant mind in charge of Aisle, and most importantly, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, was about to release a new game.
My little brain couldn’t comprehend on what journey Sam was about to take me. Unfortunately for my mental state, I played through the whole video bonanza, and I loved every second of it. I usually fend away when it’s time to dissect the meaning of the game, but this time I simply couldn’t stay away.
The whole thing revolves around the fact that you shouldn’t trust people, and as Nick Cave puts it People Just Ain’t No Good.
Her Story, where the weak and wounded rejoice
When you start the game, you’ll feel a little bit confused. There’s a remote desktop in front of you, and a lady. Suddenly, you hear her talking like she’s answering questions, but the person doing the asking can’t be seen, nor heard. This game mechanic tries, and succeeds, to immerse the player into the game – along with confusing the hell out of him.
Is this an interview? Wait, no, it’s a police interview. Is she the prime suspect of a murder? Kidnapping? What’s happening here?
The thing is, you don’t know what’s really going on until you basically finish the game – but I use this term lightly. Playing, and finishing the game will be different for anyone trying to tackle this Columbo-gone-mad scenario. Your main goal should be clearing the fog, answering questions, and figuring out if she’s the bad person, or just a misunderstood girl.
How do you even play Her Story?
By paying attention, and being a stay-at-home detective, that’s how. You’ll ransack the police archive which is comprised of VHS tapes from the 90’s, through an old eerie-looking database – that one might find on Jigsaw’s computer.
You’ll embark on a journey that at times will feel easy, and dumbed-down, making you think that you’ll find the suspect’s true identity in no time, only to suddenly become infuriatingly frustrating because you don’t know what to look for anymore.
You see, you need to search for those VHS tapes in your old, and fuzzy database. You search by using keywords, or phrases, for example Murder of Husband, or Murder Plan. Try to keep away from generic searching, because it will unlikely show what you’re looking for. Try to pay attention to interviews, and try to pair them, and not take them as individual sessions.
These clips can be short length consisting of a few seconds, to several minutes.
You need to be clever with your searches, because that’s the only way the game will reward you. Of course, you can just punch in every word that you’ve heard in the interviews, and you’ll definitely get results, but that’s not the way to go if you want to solve the mystery.
While it is a good tactic for the first half hour of the game, Her Story tries to make you think outside of the box. For example, try to understand what the woman in front of you is feeling. What are her emotions? What is she going through? Try searching for feeling guilty, getting angry, and so on.
This challenge proved to be quite satisfying, and proved to offer results that I could actually use to advance in the game.
I was stumped more than once while playing through Her Story, but a few brain storming sessions that didn’t last more than 10 minutes got me through my predicament. I couldn’t let the perpetrator roam free.
It’s up to you to set the pace for the game, and it remains at your discretion how the narrative unfolds, but be warned, it doesn’t paint a comprehensive story at times, and it can get confusing as hell.
The database tracker can show you what videos you uncovered, and how many you’ve got until you finish Her Story. There are more than 200 videos that you can find, and this assures gamers that Her Story has a sort-of replayability value, although I wouldn’t play it a second time.
Not because it gets boring, that’s out of the question, but because I’ve already figured out the mystery, and replaying the game to find those pesky clips that eluded me the first time just doesn’t feel satisfying.
It left me with that feeling of dread that everything can go wrong in a matter of seconds just because. That’s the most scary part of Her Story. You get to realize that you aren’t in charge of anything, and you’re at the mercy of what random events occur to you, and around you.
There’s no Game Over for Her Story, unless you count those moments of sheer mental blockage.
My verdict is that Her Story is definitely a must-play title for everyone – although, little children should stay away from this kind of game. I don’t even think they would find it appealing – What’s a VHS tape, daddy?