Through an old computer you have access to videoclips of a woman talking to the police about her missing husband. The videos were taped in 1994, and they were digitised, transcribed and made searchable so that it would be easy to find specific parts of the interviews that could be relevant in court. However, the footage of the detective’s questions have been lost so there are only about 270 short clips of the woman’s responses. The clips are not accessible in a straightforward manner, but they are at least searchable so you can type in a keyword to get the clips where that keyword is mentioned. Sadly, only the first five hits for each keyword can be retrieved. From these data, and these limitations, you try to figure out what actually happened in June 1994.
From the above description it is clear that Her Story is an unusual game. There is no other gameplay involved than typing keywords and watching videoclips, but it really works in its simplicity! It is not a straightforward story that is coming through the grainy taped videos, and I really wanted to know more about what happened as I started watching the videos. After finishing the game in a satisfactoily manner (actually watching all clips) I realised that I had spent more than four hours watching 90 minutes of photage of one woman responding to questions while enjoying it. This could only be possible through the excellent acting, and it may be the first time I think of excellent acting within a computer game. Well done Sam Barlow (creator) and Viva Seifert (the woman).
There is an important flaw in the game idea of Her Story: it is certainly possible for a player to use certain keywords by chance and immediately receive crucial information about the case. Luckily for me, I seem to have been very much into the other direction since I was watching almost all clips before I could get a reasonable idea about the events, but there is no guarantee that the order in which a player may see the clips makes sense from a narrative point of view. In addition there is absolutely no replayability value in a game of this type unless I completely forget the plot, but I think my experience from playing the game this one time was so good that these flaws do not matter for me. I had four great hours!