Critical Play: Her Story

For this critical play, I watched a playthrough of Her Story. The mechanics of this game are unique, involving searching through a police database that includes a lot of interview footage, letting the player dictate their experience based off the queries they come up with and the order of the footage they watch. The player is able to immerse themselves in the role of a detective or investigator, going through the footage based on what words they search that appear in that video. The player has access to a computer interface that also has other file and applications on it, like text files and the garbage bin. The story of the game revolves around the player trying to find out what happened to a woman’s missing husband (the woman is the one for whom we have the police interviews of). I think the game integrates the story with the mechanic well, not directing the user through a specific timeline, but instead non-linearly allowing the player, however they decide to investigate using what’s available to them on the database (which is in a familiar format to any computer user), to come up with their theory. There seems to be no set answer for what happened and players have multiple theories about what could have happened to the woman’s husband, including the twin theory and the multiple personality theory. If the game was music, I think it would be melodic because the mechanics and story integrate well, as they would in real life for an actual detective. The mechanic and the story affect each other especially in the way that because of this mechanic, there is no set “ending” to the game — you can get the right query to search to find the most helpful interview footage early or late in the game, but the player can choose to keep searching for however long they want to collect more information about what happened.

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