Critical Play — Her Story

Introduction

I recently played Her Story, a mystery game available on iOS and other platforms. When beginning the game, the player is given very little context — they are just informed that they have logged into a portal with videos that they can search by key word.

Mechanics

Her Story is a completely video-based game, meaning that all information the player obtains is via watching videos. There are seven different recordings of a female suspect’s deposition that have been broken up into 10–20 second chunks; thus, there are hundreds of clips to sort through. You access a clip by searching for a word or phrase that appears in the transcription of that clip. Common words (like the name of the murder victim, Simon) will return many clips; however, the player can only view the first 5. This prevents the player from being able to just watch all of the videos using a generic word.

Aesthetics

When playing Her Story, it is hard not to believe that you are actually searching a computer for proof of the murder in these depositions. The video is grainy and the actress’s performance as a suspect is extremely convincing.

Types of Fun & Plot Development

The most prominent type of fun in Her Story is discovery. As the player realizes new words that could unlock parts of the story, they unlock juicy details and gossip about the players that completely changes their perspective on what is occurring. The player wants to continue to dig deeper and discover more of the hidden secrets.

Conclusion

Ultimately, I found Her Story to be a fascinating mystery that utilizes a great deal of footage to advance its narrative. I think it opened my eyes to many ways that a strong narrative can be delivered utilizing unique mechanics.