Her story put to the test - interview with ... a murderer?
We are sitting in front of an old CRT monitor and are supposed to form a whole in a police database from seven very old, fragmented video interrogations of a woman named Hannah Smith, namely the story behind the murder of her husband Simon Smith, a harmless glassworking employee somewhere in England .
The video snippets can be found in the database using search terms. For example, we enter "body" and receive notes in which Hannah uses this very term. From the little films that we see, other key words emerge, for example "pub" or "marriage". However, we are always only fed with five videos, even if more can be assigned to our respective term.
For us this means finding other terms or specifying our first more precisely; Her Story cannot be tricked by entering phrases like “yes” or “no” or “sorry”. Instead of just typing "wedding", "wedding dress" might produce different results. So it is not always Hannah who provides us with keywords, but also our talent for combination or intuition.
We determine which path we take through the videos, which event or which person we cling to. It's linear at best in the first few minutes, after which each player takes a different route through Hannah and Simon's story and will therefore encounter surprises and aha moments sooner or later. By the way, Her Story signals that you have stumbled upon an important finding with a slight flickering of the screen and a very brief reflection of the person we embody in front of the monitor.
The length of Her Story is difficult to gauge. Some players need well over six hours because they get lost in a side thread that ultimately turns out to be comparatively unimportant. Some struggle for hours to find additional terms that bring new videos to light. Others, in turn, discover the secret of Simon's death very quickly. But it remains exciting every second.
Confused, we listen to a ballad the woman is performing. We wonder how she rhythmically hits the tabletop with her fingernails, we get an insight into her childhood, we watch her analyzing images from fairy tale books. Not all, but many of the videos are ambiguous. Hints are sometimes very clear, sometimes well concealed. And the more one learns, the better connections between seemingly unrelated events are revealed, the more precisely a picture is formed in the head. And it makes you feel wonderfully clever. Just like a good cop.
Hannah is embodied by the actress and singer Viva Seifert, who fulfills her role perfectly. Anyone who expects excessive facial expressions, from which despair or even lies can be easily read, is wrong. We can't get away with Her Story that cheaply.
A total of 271 video snippets are to be found in the database. Which ones we have already found and which ones are still missing can be checked roughly in the Database Checker, which marks clips seen in green and unseen clips in red. The last video we watched is highlighted in yellow, but you don't really have to watch every single clip. In any case, we already knew where the journey was going for about half of the videos and could have stopped there.
If the player clears a certain hurdle, a chat window opens, through which we can quasi exit our investigations. However, without being presented with a solution that proves our assumptions to be correct. Her Story just gives us a very precise idea of what and why it happened. After all, with the sure knowledge of your own role in the action, you leave the game. And with the good feeling of having asked the right questions, even if it was only in the form of search words in a database. But even if you know what Hannah and Simon went through, you shouldn't give up just yet.
The story told in Her Story is not outstanding, but the way it is processed in the small videos is always fascinating. Especially when you already know the big secret and what to look out for. The main attraction of the game is that it really unlocks all of the clips using the correct search terms. And man Meier, we are still missing a few!