Her Story is a nonlinear narrative detective game that experiments with story the same way some of my favorite books and movies do.
When you open the game, you find yourself faced with a ninties-era desktop with a few Readme documents that explain the only mechanic: the database. Detectives have pulled old interview tapes from 1994, but they are in small segments and out of order. Luckily the police tagged the films with keywords you use to sift through the evidence. The system limits each search to the first five entires though, so as you listen, you must find ways to narrow down the results.
Now all the clips are multiple interviews with a woman whose husband turned up dead. When you first pull the database up, it suggests you start your search with the keyword “murder”. From there you will discover names, places, and other clues that will help you piece together what really happened to the victim, Simon.
The game gives you a couple of different ways to organize what you find. You can tag each fragment with your own keywords if you start to notice a pattern. You can also use the “Add to Session” function in the database to try to place clips from the same interview in order.
But despite these two mechanic’s usefulness, they in no add to your progress in the game or the story–it’s what makes this game different from other detective games. Not only is the story nonlinear and its interpretation up for debate (Seriously, the Reddit is getting heated over this), but it also has no formal ending. After you uncover certain video clips, you get the option to end the game yourself, an instant message popping up to ask you if you found everything you are looking for. Because in the real world you get no certainty. You might have all the DNA, confessions, and other kinds of proof, but you know the validity of neither the evidence nor your conclusions. Reality is never simple.
When reading previews and articles about Her Story, one of the biggest discussions is about whether this title is a game or experience. While a game’s definition is subjective, I feel this is definitely one. Though the win state is nontraditional, it still exists. The developer made the player responsible for the ending of the game, and for that I am grateful.
Note: After some much needed family time, I’m back! I had this written up around the time of E3 but am just now getting to typing it up. It might not seem as relevant as when I wrote it, but hey, you know how the cliché goes.
One of best kept secrets at the Sony E3 conference was the upcoming console remake of Final Fantasy VII. Ever since the tech demo for the PS3 showed the potential of recreating Midgar for the modern era, fans have clamored for a full remake. Now nearly ten years later, fans are getting just that. Despite my excitement, I have an unpopular question: is it really necessary?
Graphically, it will clearly look like an improvement. Past and current players argue that its outdated graphics make it inaccessible today, but disagree. While out of the all the games, it is showing its age, I think we need a different one if we are talking about updating graphics for playability’s sake. The FF games from the NES and SNES apparently have timeless graphics, or at least that is what any indie developer would tell you to justify the heaps of pixellated platformers hitting the market lately. FFIX continued with the more classic sprite model. FFX and the entries to follow are all based on the same character style still being used today. That leaves us with the awkward first forays into the use of 3D models with FFVII and FFVIII.
Having played neither of them in their respective hay days, I didn’t have nostalgia obscuring my view of the games. Also I played through all of FFVII and the first disc of FFVIII, so I like to think I can speak on their appearance. FFVIII is not the most popular entry, but I found the way its graphics stretched across a current television impossible to look at after a while. While Cloud and Barrett look like the goofiest polygonal models with Q-tip biceps, their movements and actions in the environment are still clear. On the other hand, Squall looks like the developers tried meld the style of the FMV cutscenes with his sprite in a way that turned out as anything but cohesive.
I’m glad his bit of fan service is finally on its way after so many teases and pieces of misinterpreted information, but uncertainty tempers my excitement. Will this pull resources from the upcoming Final Fantasy XV and any other new games? What if the current team of Square Enix people can’t manage to get lightning to strike twice? Will Cloud rock a dress just as well in HD?
Regardless, I do have a few things I am either looking forward to or hoping happen:
- Spot-on voice acting. The Kingdom Hearts series did the casting for all the FFVII characters perfectly.
- Challenging trophies. While ultimately pointless, they make playing ports/remakes/updates more fun.
- A clearer understanding–or possible update–to the Materia system. Reports suggest a reworking of the battle system, so hopefully this will get tweaked.
As for my long shots?
- An emotion-filled Cloud.
- Have the Buster Sword actually be the strongest weapon in the game.
- Aerith lives…long enough for me to make my white mage a demigod.