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Her Story and What Defines A Game

Her Story and What Defines A Game

Notepad and pen in hand, I press play on the next set of hazy 90's police tapes. After some solid progress, I've hit a bit of wall. Did she murder him? Maybe I'm overthinking it; obsessing over minute details that don't warrant the level of attention I'm giving them. But then again, maybe I'm not. I scour back through four pages of notes.

  • Rapunzel
  • Mirror
  • Vauxhall Cavalier
  • Eric

So I've managed to deduce that she likes fairytales, lacks taste in automotive vehicles and...who the fuck is Eric? Who the hell am I? This is Her Story, a game that effortlessly tosses aside any preconceived ideas you may have had of what games are or should be; undermining the idea that only intricate gameplay mechanics can provide an engrossing and entertaining experience.

'A Video Game About A Woman Talking To The Police'. This is how Her Story describes itself. It's...a bit of a shit description really. I mean, yes, it's accurate, but it doesn't half-sell the game short. You're tasked with watching video tapes of Hannah, a woman under suspicion of the murder of her partner. Watching endless tapes of a woman's monological fulmination, with little connection to her or her plight, is, on paper, incredibly boring.

"What do you do?"

You type! You type and press enter ad infinitum. You enter 'murder' and the first five video clips where the word 'murder' is mentioned appear. But you're locked out of other clips that hold that word, so you watch the clips back again, furiously scribbling down new words that you're confident hold value, and then you toss those words into the search engine, and the process continues.

An hour in and my notepad is filled with even more incomprehensible notes."She's just nuts," my brother tells me, as we argue over which avenue to pursue. We're having a dialogue about a game but all we've been doing is, effectively, googling. I throw random words into a YouTube search bar most evenings, but instead of cats and J-Pop, I'm unraveling a story full of deception and lies. The graphics suck, the gameplay is minimalistic and the lack of a failstate undermines the challenge somewhat. Yet, were it not for Bloodborne, Her Story would be the best game I've played all year.

Journey. You play as a tea towel stranded in a desert. You walk and you jump. You press a button and you make an incoherent noise, but who or what you're communicating is impossible to ascertain. I played Journey and I didn't like it, but my own disappointment aside, Journey represents another game that doesn't align with the traditional definition of what a game actually is.

Again, Journey is bereft of what one might consider to be essential pillars of a videogames; toting no health bars, game over screens or any significant challenge... all you do is walk and experience an unconventionally told story. The game subverts all expectations of what we’ve come to expect from the vast majority of videogames, yet many consider it among the best games of its generation.

Gone Home, The Stanley Parable - we're seeing more and more examples of games that manage to constantly surprise and evolve the medium, and although some have received unwarranted hate, it's pleasing that gaming has reached a point in its evolution where Halo and Uncharted can share the stage with smaller, unique experiences.

The industry is still in relative infancy, yet the parameters of what make a game are ever changing. Interactive movies, walking simulators - criticisms have and will continue to be lobbied at videogames that don’t adhere to most people’s expectations of what games in 2015 should be.

Fast-paced action campaigns and competitive multiplayer shooters will always have their place, but titles like Her Story prove that there’s an opportunity to create a variety of experiences that are unrivaled by any other medium.




News Reporter

Unemployed and with no redeeming qualities, Socrates now spends his days giving you the la-li-lu-le-lowdown on all things gaming.

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