developed by Sam Barlow
Hannah Smith is the wife of a man who has gone missing. In a series of interviews with the police, she divulges the details of their life: the early stages of their relationship, the ‘dirty weekends’, their shared love and loss. Her Story invites its players to wade through these tapes in search of clues, hoping to find key words or narrative themes that go some way to providing the missing links. As they progress, they may choose to map their route through the mass of material by leaving a trail of tags behind them.
The game strays into the territory of filmic production. While it is presented in a jumbled chronology, its plot is carefully constructed, and the execution hinges on the actor’s performance. Hannah faces the camera head-on in each interview, sitting across from us at a small table. Positioned behind the lens, the player assumes the role of the police officer. Pulled in, we are left all the more suspicious by our close encounter.
Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou
Once the title screen of Her Story has faded from view, we are greeted by a PC desktop, its grainy visuals, icons, and browser design lifted from the mid-nineties. Two .txt files scream out for a double click: ‘Readme’ and ‘REALLY Readme!!!’ Trash pokes out of the Rubbish Bin, inviting further examination. Clinical office bulbs glare, burning white beams across the top of our view. We may opt to switch this light trick off, or we may let it be, enjoying the pretence that we are sat at the desk of a twentieth-century detective.
Trawling through a police database, we find video snippets taken from various interviews with the same woman. She is the partner of a man called Simon, who may have been murdered. Her outfit changes, as does the date stamp to the right of the PC display, but these are not the only inconsistencies. The woman’s tone of voice, stance adopted, and accounts of past events all vary, leaving us to piece together the mystery behind the movies. Her words, she tells us in one clip, are just ‘stories’, as artificial as the fake light effects onscreen.
Words by John Wadsworth
More to discover
You can watch a trailer here, and see a playthrough here. Jake Laverde has interviewed Sam Barlow (the game's designer) for The International Business Times, Jess McDonell & Edmond Tran have reviewed the game for GameSpot, and Keith Stuart has written about the game for The Guardian.
Question of the day
I suppose a narrator can only be self-serving if he or she has a self.
– Yiyun Li, author of 'The Vagrants' and 'A Thousand Years of Good Prayers' (via The Brief →)
Yes, and your narration of your own life is usually the worst culprit.
– Annie Hart, musician and member of Au Revoir Simone (via The Brief →)