Game Review | Her Story
Game summary: You're shown VHS recordings of a police interrogation. Who is the woman that's being questioned, is she guilty and what is her crime? (IMDb)
Her Story will turn five years old in June, but I still don't want to spoil anything, although that's going to leave this review post a little short because it's just about impossible to talk about without spoiling it. Honestly, there are multiple theories about what really happened prior to the interviews you witness, but even explaining them would have to ruin some parts of the game.
Then again, I don't know if you can really call it a game because there's no way to 'win' - instead, you just finish the story after you've watched a certain number of videos that will give you at least some idea of what happened in the past. It's interactive and entertaining, so I guess it should be considered a game but the level of interaction is so low that I'm not sure.
This is mostly because most of the 'action' takes place in your own head, trying to piece together scraps of evidence to fill in the blanks of the story. You watch videos, listen to what's being said and then search for more videos to watch and listen to - that is honestly the extent of physical interaction you will have with this game.
The great thing is that I doubt any two players will uncover the story in the same order thanks to the responsibility being on the player to experience it rather than Her Story giving you pre-determined chunks at set points in time. With the right search term, you could uncover a crucial video that explains a lot to you which another player might never see, although you could still form the same conclusion based on multiple videos taken together.
And watching these videos can prove addictive, especially thanks to how good a performer Viva Seifert proves to be. I can't fully explain why because it would spoil what is probably the first big 'reveal/twist most players will figure out but I could've watched her in these videos endlessly if I hadn't played through four hours straight - enough for me to be satisfied that my theory was correct.
Even explaining why these interviews are taking place is impossible because it would spoil the game - I can only recommend that people play this knowing as little as possible about this award-winning game and experience it for yourself because beyond how you interact, Her Story is very difficult to talk about without ruining someone else's play-through.
The only other thing I can really say is that the visuals are just as important as what is being said. It's a brilliant set-up from the game to condition you to simply take the testimony you hear on its own merits, but paying attention to what you see also provides clues - many of which are never given in dialogue.
I can honestly not recommend Her Story highly enough, although the biggest criticism I have is that it only really works the first time you play it. Once you have an idea of what's going on, there isn't really much reason to go back to it - at least not right away. It's very much an experience that requires years between repeat visits so that you can forget how you worked everything out before.
But that's it. My first time through was incredibly enjoyable and highly satisfying to have some of my predictions realised, while genuinely crushing to have others ruined. Seifert is so good in this that I'm surprised that she hasn't had more acting offers, even if just for other video games. If Her Story is to be her final game appearance, she's definitely going out on top.
Her Story is a unique game that involves very little in the way of interaction through gameplay mechanics, but rather in exercising your brain as you try and piece together what actually happened. It's not great for replay value, but the first time through is pretty great and can provide some moments of satisfaction other games can't match when a theory is proven correct.