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Her Story

Her Story is, like Cibele, an interactive story told via your interaction with a computer desktop. The main character is a woman, and this is where the similarities end. I'm not sure I would have thought to compare the two if I hadn't played them so close together.

In Her Story, you are presented with an old, 1990 era, desktop PC, the design of which reminds me of Windows 3.1 (so pre Windows 98). You are told via a Readme file that you have been granted guest access to police interview videos and how to search and tag. The desktop contains minimal things to explore: a database checker, the program to query the video database, a couple of readme files, and in the "Rubbish Bin" there is a basic version of Reversi or Othello.

A note: I'm going to review this game without bringing in too many spoilers.

The videos themselves are all very short, none lasting more than a few minutes. I think everyone who plays this will experience it differently, because of the nature of the way the story is told, which I think is a brilliant game mechanic. Basically, you are told that the videos have all been digitally steno graphed, so that you can use words to search for any time they are used in the interviews. So, you can start with a basic search term like "murder" and you might be lead to "weapon, kill, blood" etc. (I'm avoiding more specific words on purpose.) But everyone will be drawn to a slightly different series of queries. Soon, if you are like me, you have a whole page filled of different search terms you want to try.

It becomes apparent pretty quickly that you may be dealing with an unreliable narrator and that's all I will say about the content of the videos. The story that unfolds is wrapped in mystery, and because you are watching the interviews out of order, it can be a little difficult to keep track of when the conversations are taking place. There are little details that you might not pick up on the first time you watch a video, so I even found myself going back to some.

I actually wish the story had gone a little more in depth and lasted a little longer. Like I said I thought the mechanic of using a search term and branching out like following a tree to be really clever. But I guess this is an indie game and there are limits to everything. The method of story telling reminded me a little of True Detective, without getting to watch the actual events play out. (If you haven't watched True Detective, I think you should.)

So, my final thoughts on this game, and why do I think this is a game where Cibele wasn't? I think the difference here is the point of discovery. The feeling that my actions had some sort of impact. They still didn't impact the outcome of the story, but this is the case for many games. They did, however, impact my understanding of that story. Everything was not simply handed to me, I had to puzzle out how to discover each video in the database. Only then I had the ability to attempt to piece together the bigger picture.

All that being said, I think the baseline qualifications of what separates a game from other media is not a question I can easily answer. Is it the interaction element? Is it the platform on which it is presented? Does there need to be some sort of quest, goal, or conclusion? I really hesitate to answer these questions definitively, because probably my favorite thing about video games is that they come in so many varieties. Let me not ramble on about this, but suffice it to say, I think my enjoyment of Her Story has softened by opinion on Cibele a little. I think I see a little more value in the type of game this is, even though I stand by my criticisms of Cibele specifically.

I wouldn't play this game again, because I feel I have finished it. I got 100% completion and the story is short enough. I think I would go and re-watch the videos in chronological order, which you can do by pursuing the local files, just to see if this reveals anything I missed. The main drawback on this game for me was that I wasn't exactly satisfied by the ending. I wanted a little more backstory on why I was here looking through the videos and what ended up happening to the woman portrayed in them.


PS - The actress who played "Her" was phenomenal.

PPS - The virtual desktop was well programmed.

Info and Stats
  • Game: Her Story
  • Time Played: 4.6 hours
  • Rating: 4.0

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