Version Reviewed: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPad Mini
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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At first glance, Her Story doesn't seem like much. It emulates the look and feel of seaching a police database from 1994 on an oldWindows desktop - down to the horror of that teal background and ugly interface. There are only six things to click on and no real action to speak of. And yet, there is something strikingly compelling about it all.
Sam Barlow, creator of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Aisle, has brought his storytelling expertise to this interactive narrative. The entire game revolves around searching through clips of several videos of the police speaking with someone named Hannah Smith.
Hannah's husband has gone missing and it is up to you to uncover the truth by sifting through the remnants of "her story." The gameplay is super simple: just enter a word into the search bar and up to five videos will be displayed. I found it useful to take notes of words to search during the videos, then I ended up with 6 pages of notes that if read back look like the scrawlings of a madman. Each video has a time stamp so if you feel particularly enterprising you can figure out the order of every clip. There's also an amusing minigame hidden in the Trash folderthat harkens back to old Windows freeware like Mine Sweeper.
Her Story's narrative is eerie and full of little twists and turns. Occasionally I would stumble across a search term to unlock a video that was downright creepy. The music is sparse; most of the time the only sounds will be the buzzing of the lights overhead or the tapping of the keys until you open oa video. Hannah has a pleasant voice and alternates between concerned wife and flirty suspect - she might even serenade you if you enter the right search term. There are a lot of video clips to uncover. Even after I thought I'd found the true story, I kept trying new terms and finding more. You can check your progress with the Database Checker, but you'll have to move your windows around to find it. Some videos vary in length from just one sentance to entire monologues from Hannah.
Unfortunatly that's all there is to it. If you're looking for something with more challenge or action, Her Story may not be your cup of tea. You may also be disappointed if you happen to guess a search term that unlocks certain videos early. You can figure out the plot pretty quickly, but even if you do it's still a curious enough tale to go back and explore. Another potential downside (depending on your disposition) is that there are no real instructions. There's a readme document that lays out how to search, but it doesn't cover things like how to clear stored user session videos. Experimentation and critical thinking are key to unlocking all of the aspects of Her Story.
If you can let yourself get immersed, you'll find a tale akin to something out of "Twin Peaks" or "True Detective." I know I found it fascinating enough to finish in one sitting. Her Story is deep and bizaare, and an overallgood time.