Her Story takes two wins at the 2015 Game Awards
Murder mystery game Her Story won two awards at the 2015 Game Awards out of the four categories it was nominated for. Created by Sam Barlow, Her Story won Best Narrative beating Life is Strange, Tales from the Borderlands, Until Dawn and Game of the Year winner The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Her Story’s Viva Seifert also nabbed Best Performance, thanking Sam for writing the script. Her Story’s compelling and unique approach to engaging the player are worthy of both awards, hopefully encouraging gamers to explore new ideas of player interactivity. Here is BitCultures’s take on the Her Story:
Her Story is a narrative murder mystery, taking place within the computer screen of a police database. The player must delve through the interview archives and uncover the mystery of a murder in the mid 90s. The archive consists of hundreds of fragmented clips, all live- action interviews featuring a mysterious woman connected to the case. The more clips you watch and the closer you listen, the more you learn about the events surrounding the murder. It’s a fresh new perspective on the detective genre, allowing the player to have full control over the investigation, there is no character to play as, no clues or hints, just the evidence in front of you and the time it takes to unravel the mystery. Her Story gives the player freedom to mentally figure out and solve the murder themselves, which results in a liberating experience – if you can solve it.
Her Story encompasses a fresh understanding of interactivity, engaging the player in creative new ways. Through the fuzzy, low quality VHS interview footage, glare of the florescent lights on the screen and the sound of the keys of an old computer as you type, all nice details that make you feel as through you are experiencing good old detective work, sitting at a police desk for several hours, slowly piecing together the fragments of her story. Through the police database search bar, the player can type in words that correlate to the interviewee’s transcribed speech. A hit on the word “robbery” will bring up interview clips where the word “robbery” was said, with a cap of five videos a hit. This kind of interaction encompasses the idea that the game doesn’t present the story and evidence, but the player must find it and all through the spoken dialogue of a single woman.
Viva Seifert, who plays the interviewee, gives a captivating performance. Being the only connection to the mystery her words become the key to solving the investigation. As you listen to her talk, you begin to piece together her story and the truth starts to form. You listen and watch her for hours, the people she talks of and the places she has been, you get to understand them intimately. There is something deeply psychological about watching hundred of interview clips of the same woman talking. Coupled with an atmospheric ambient sound track, there is sense of secrecy behind her words, a hidden meaning maybe? Its up to you what interpretation and understanding you come to – the game makes no point of confirming hypotheses or conclusions. You must trust your own mental capabilities to discover what truly happened.
Her Story is a fresh and new way of engaging the player, making you feel as though you are truly the one solving the mystery. It’s a compelling addition to the detective narrative genre of gaming, an experience that sits nicely between cinema and videogame – it holds the same tense atmosphere and crime narrative similar to shows like Red Riding (2009) but also thoughtful in the way it tells its story and a compelling new type of interactivity.
Her Story was created by Sam Barlow and is available to play on Windows, Mac and iOS and can be bought on their website: www.herstorygame.com and through Steam.