A game in almost name alone, Her Story is about observing documented police footage and applying it to create your own interpretation of events. While that may not appeal to gamers in the traditional sense, it will grab people who are fans of true crime or horror without requiring any gaming skill at all. Once you’re hooked, it’s very easy to get sucked into the mystery of Her Story for an hour or more at a time. Perhaps leading you to do some detective work of your own, as you tag videos to revisit later or jot down clues on a scrap piece of paper. I first approached Her Story with a bit of an upturned nose while silently judging the game as if it were a negligible piece of abstract art. But I discovered something unusually special, that was less of a game and more of an elegant alternative form of entertainment.
Her Story starts by seating you at the monitor of an old police computer with access to an archive of videos connected to a person’s death. The videos are answers to questions posed by detectives, but you are only able to view the response without knowing the context of her answer. You may search the archive for anything you think may yield results, but are limited to view the first five results of your search. The videos all star actress Viva Seifert, who does a surprisingly strong job. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting an Oscar winning performance chops in something I would be whisking through on an iPhone, but I was more than content with her overall delivery. After all, the entire game of Her Story is just searching and unscrambling bits of her story. As far as that goes, I won’t detail the actual story itself since uncovering it over time is the entire point of the exercise. Though I will mention it did provide a slice of a good mystery, and there were multiple moments were I had retraced and applied newly found knowledge to fully understand the meaning of a previous clip. The instances when you make such connections are Her Story at it’s best and kept me involved. I continued to hunt for more secrets and meaning long after I thought I had come to a succinct conclusion because I was genuinely captivated and wanted to continue to absorb it all.
Creator Sam Barlow does a wonderful job of nailing the overall presentation of Her Story. While it may not appear to be much at first, the subtle touches really lend Her Story a feeling of it’s own. From the slight glare on the monitor to the drab olive videos themselves, the overall feel is quietly brilliant. The keyboard taps as you type up terms, limited use of music, and occasional reflection of the monitor all helped submerge me into Her Story little by little. Which is greatly appreciated, as your time in Her Story is entirely dependent on your eagerness to dig into it. I personally played for over four hours, but that figure is unique to my experience, and not entirely indicative of what another player’s might be.
Having scrubbed through lots of the footage multiple times, I feel comfortable giving Her Story an Adonis Immaculate on the Game Awry Review Scale. The experience as a whole is an enthralling dive into a small window of the unknown. It’s not what comes to mind when you think of a game, but it is undeniably unique in many regards. Both mature toned and wholly dependent on your level of interest, Her Story is not for everybody. In fact, I would sooner recommend Her Story to an avid reader than a person I think of as a player of videogames. Yet no matter what type of person you are, if you find yourself slipping into the cracks of Her Story, you are bound to unearth something truly exceptional.