Her Story [$3.99] is one of the more unique games I have played in recent memory, by far. At its core, you're just browsing a search engine, trying to find the right queries for what you're looking for, but that's pretty much irrelevant. Her Story is a mystery, where you have a mystery involving dozens of segments of police interviews with a woman, where you're trying to piece together the mystery at hand. The game is about putting together the disparate pieces, paying attention to clues to discover the truth of what happened with the woman and her missing husband.

The story is the star here, and I'm going to be as vague as possible here so that you can discover its secrets and surprises for yourself. Try to avoid spoilers of any sort, because it's so much more rewarding to discover the truth than to just read it, and to have those sudden realizations happen to you when you do.

Her Story 3

You interact with Her Story by sitting at a simulated computer terminal with a collection of the videos from two years ago. These are composed of seven different interviews, but chopped up into a bunch of different short videos. The in-game justification for this is that the videos were digitized a while back, were split up as part of a database, and thanks to a flood, you only have the woman's footage, not the detective's questioning. And then Y2K messed up some stuff, and this is all that's been recovered. You can search to pull up videos with words matching from what the woman has said, and have those videos pop up. But here's the thing: in a technical justification for making sure that you can't search for "the" and watch all the videos at once, only the first 5 videos matching the search query will pop up. As such, if you want to find a later video in the investigation, you need to find the words to match those and not earlier videos. It's kind of silly, but I understand the justification. Videos have an indicator showing if they're new, you can tag them with your own tags for easy searching, add them to a list access without searching, and see a database of all the videos you've found. This only shows you where the current video is in terms of time with the rest of videos, so you can see if you've watched everything, or if there's videos before or after your current video.

But yeah, the main thing you're doing in Her Story is watching videos, and rewatching them for new clues. Some things that didn't make sense out of context suddenly do when you watch another video. You can rewind through videos, and thanks to the big, bold captions enabled by default, rewatching can be easier if you just want to scrub through the footage. Though I don't recommend that until you're well familiar with the videos – little things you see with how the woman acts can say a lot.

Her Story 1

Viva Seifert is the star of Her Story, and her acting has to carry the entire story. She does a fantastic job, one you'll appreciate the more you play. There's little things that you'll start to piece together thanks to her performance that might slip past you on the first viewing. The script does play a few things rather on the nose, but that's not terrible, necessarily. The game is helped by its guiding moments, the ones that provide grounding that you are progressing, that it provides a definite pointer for where you need to be going. Even one quasi-secret has a significance that seems pretty obvious over time, but hey – not all themes need to be complex and mysterious. You have enough complex mystery to sort out here by yourself.

Her Story does raise some questions about "is it a game or is it not?" I think that this is, but in an interesting way. It's the kind of thing where you could probably just watch all the videos in linear order and get a sense of the story. Instead, the reward for success is so much more abstract. You're putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and depending on the path you take, the challenge of putting it together varies. It's about the discovery, of finding out what's going on, piecing together that truth. The challenge comes from watching the videos, trying to find the little hints and clues to piece together the videos, to find the important details that will make the truth known. Your reward is revelation, not a high score. There is in-game feedback – little cues will tell you whenever something is important, that you've watched something important. But the "game" of Her Story is a vehicle for experiencing the story, and that's not a bad thing at all! It's compelling, and the interaction model is interesting enough.

Her Story 2

The atmosphere of the game is astounding, too. I think this game is best on iPad, because all the video is 4:3, so you can watch it with no black bars. There's a CRT monitor effect that curves the visuals, which can be disabled if you prefer, but I think the game loses something without it. Sam Barlow, the developer who also worked on the cult hit Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, has done a great job at making you feel like you're actually at a computer terminal. When you type on the keyboard, they sound like mechanical key presses. The iOS interface does take a bit away from the look, and it's annoying that you have to replace the "BLANK" tag for any videos each time, but otherwise the style of the game is cohesive. The music cues can become a bit blatant over time, but that's Her Story's only real weakness: its necessary blatantness stands out when the rest of the game is about watching for little cues, trying to piece together subtle moments.

I highly recommend Her Story, even for its slight imperfections. It can be frustrating to search for term after term, trying to find just the one video you need, or from a particular investigation. Sometimes you just need to search for everything possible to find what you need. And it does have its blatant moments that stand out as being there because they needed to be there to guide you. Plus, the game is a real storage and battery hog, the latter not being a surprise because it's full of video footage. Regardless, Her Story is so unique and so clever, with genuine "a-ha!" moments that I can't wait to discuss with others who have played this game. If you like original, premium experiences that focus on storytelling, then check out Her Story.

Turns out the FMV game genre just needed some good acting and writing to be of worth, huh?

TouchArcade Rating

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  • GamerFirst1

    It's times like these that really piss me off with Apples non-expandable storage. I'd love to play this one but I'll have to wait till I clear a bunch of stuff first.

    • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

      I feel you. This one is on Windows and Mac too, and it's the same game, so go check it out there?

      • GamerFirst1

        That's what I'll have to do. Thanks

    • Матт Реякіпѕ

      Apple needs to get rid of the cheapest iPhone line. Get rid of the 16 GB models aka the $199 with contract models and make people pay $299 and up for one on contract. You can't afford that extra $100 to $200 then you have no business with an iPhone. You're better off with Android.

      • GamerFirst1

        Ok.
        I have no idea how that would fix their annoying storage attitude. I'm on a 128Gb iPad Air.

      • http://blog.sawilson.org/ Scott Wilson

        Besides, Android is just better than iOS.

  • bluechipps

    Excellent review, thanks!

  • Maglor

    Two Words: Pretty Good. I like it very much.

  • Bliquid

    Wow, this seems amazing.
    But, well, as much as i can read and speak a decent english, it is not my native language.
    So, how well should i know english in order to enjoy (or even play without looking for a vocabulary every 2 seconds) this game?
    Are there subtitles to help a little?

    • Phenomen

      there are subtitles on pc version. no idea about ios

    • http://about.me/wondroushippo Carter Dotson

      There are subtitles, enabled by default. And I'm not a good judge of whether this would be good for you. You might be fine, though?

      • Bliquid

        No, this kind of game is really my cup of tea, so as long as i have some subtitles to rely on when i don't catch everything with my ears it will be a delight.

  • Kiltedsheep

    thanks for the recommendation - this looks right up my street. hooray for non-conventional games!

  • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

    Are those screen grabs? The premise sounds interesting, but I don't think I could get past the UI. Was this made in the 1990s?

    • AppUnwrapper

      It takes place in the 90s. You can remove the screen glare. I found it easier on the eyes to remove it the first time I played, but left it on the second time.

  • http://www.thinkertongames.com Thomas Bowen

    Really digging the look of this game. Reminds me a little of a PC game a few years back where you were solving a crime and had to visit websites and such. Anyone remember what that was called?

    • tannerd

      Majestic?

    • ducksFANjason

      I think I know what you're talking about, I t was called "Missing: Since January" and I was reminded of it as well. It was a phenomenal game at the time but it's difficult to play now because of the web searching becoming so problematic (what with the crap tons of more information we now have online - it makes that search for the needle that much harder with a larger haystack). There was a sequel as well called "Evidence The Last Ritual" that I never got to play but always wanted to. It came in a sweet plastic package that made the game box look like a piece of actual police evidence. Pretty ingenious stuff.

      • http://www.thinkertongames.com Thomas Bowen

        That's the one, really innovative for its time. I remember it being really hard to find. Enjoyed the atmosphere. I didn't know there was a sequel, I might have to hunt that one out. Thanks!

  • Morgan Leecy

    Ok, going to be a muppet.. I bought this, looks beautifully produced, but I was expecting a detective story where you determine guilt or innocence a bit like that Magnetic Scrolls game of a decade or so ago.. The name of which escapes me

    • Morgan Leecy

      Is there a point where you get asked to solv the case, a secret final video that a certain series of search commands will reveal

      • Stephen

        There isn't really any "win condition". It's more about discovery/the journey.

  • witedahlia

    Yes, been waiting for this. As soon as I have the space for it I will buy it, play it and leave my impressions. Looks great.

  • drmad

    This week instabuy title

  • InTheAir

    Woah woah woah, no one ever said the game was 17+ ! Could someone elaborate on sexual content, and hopefully give a more fine tuned age without any spoilers?

    • InTheAir

      Oh yeah, it also seems pretty comedic to call the game, "A video game about a woman talking to the police" at the end of the trailer.

    • AppUnwrapper

      There's no explicit sex, if that's what you're asking. But there some mildly disturbing talk and a few curse words.

  • Матт Реякіпѕ

    People if you plan on gaming on your iPhone you don't get the 16 GB model. High quality games are gonna take up to 4 GB to download.And at times will take more than double the download size to install. Buying a 16 GB model then complaining about the limited space is stupidity on YOUR part. The 128 GB model is more storage than 99.99% of the world will ever use, yes it's $200 more than the 16 GB model, but you gotta pay to play. That's like buying the cheapest PC then complaining it's not as good as the $3000 and up models. It's not gonna be.

  • visualplayer

    Big Bold captions and accessibility? Dude, this is an instabuy for me!

  • Rohan Singhal

    No android ???? 🙁

  • http://tarasis.net/ Robert McGovern

    Very tempted by this, was eying it up on Steam earlier today. Hadn't realized it was on iOS as well.

  • Bouldergore

    Pretty much a FAP game.

Her Story Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 4.5