I didn’t realize at first that ‘Her Story’ is totally available on iOS as well as for PC, so I got it from the App Store last night, and stayed up way past my bedtime playing it on my iPhone. I had lots and lots of feelings. This game is haunting, elegant, ambiguous and delicate. And the game play is really, really simple.
Even if you aren’t necessarily into games, mobile or otherwise, but you are into thoughtful crime procedures such as The Fall, etc, then I would recommend Her Story to you also.
If you don’t know about this game yet, the idea is that you, the Player Character, have been given access to archival video recordings of police interviews with the key witness in relation to a murder investigation that happened in the mid 90s. The videos are all split up into individual answers to questions asked by the interviewing officers, (which questions you never actually get to read or see, you only get the answers).
You locate and view the videos by typing key words into a search engine. The search engine then lists how many videos there are in which the witness says that key word. The program only shows you the first five videos in a search result, so a lot of the game play revolves around getting clever with your search terms. (For a spoiler-free example, “neighbor” might result in 12 videos, but you can only see the first five. “neighbor + car” might result in 4 videos, and because that’s less than 5 you can view them all.)
There are over 200 videos. You do not have to view them all in order to “win” the game, i.e. solve the murder.
Because the order you view the videos in, and the order in which you access information and evidence, is based entirely on what search terms you enter into the engine, everyone’s experience of the game will be different. A friend of mine stumbled across a sequence of key videos really early on in her game play, but didn’t realize how crucial they were until later, once she’d watched some other videos and had more context for what she’d already seen.
If you are interested in playing this game, then I strongly recommend you don’t read reviews or discussion boards about it first, as despite the best possible intentions you could end up inadvertently spoiling yourself.
It’ll probably take you a couple of hours to solve the mystery of Her Story. It is equally suited to playing solo and thinking everything through yourself, or with one or more other people, especially if you’re the sort who enjoys discussing theories and speculating about shit when you’re watching a TV show.
But if you like neat endings and solutions with no ambiguity, then don’t play Her Story because you will not like it.