Her Story: An Interesting Exercise in Storytelling

Last weekend my wife and I spent about three hours interacting with a new not-quite-a-game that felt like 10 minutes we enjoyed it so much. When Her Story begins you are presented with desktop screen from a stylized 90's operating system with a program running that allows you to search a police database of related videos. Each video is a single statement, ranging from about 5 seconds to 2 minutes, from multiple interviews about a man's disappearance. The transcript from those videos is what you are querying, and the first term typed into the system when you begin is "MURDER".

The reason I am calling this not-quite-a-game is that it only requires you to type search terms into a system and watch the resultant videos. While there is no "test" at the end of the game to see if you have solved the mystery there are some elements of a game like trying to uncover all of the videos and if one of your search terms is too broad you can only watch the first 5 videos returned form your query. That said, Her Story gains a lot from its simple mechanics allowing the player's imagination to create much of the suspense, twists, and turns that would be lost if you simply watched the videos in order.

I really enjoyed Her Story and would recommend it to someone looking for an interesting story and an active imagination. It is definitely not a big production, big studio game, but it is an interesting experiment in storytelling, and I think it is worth the 5 or so dollars it costs. It can be purchase on Steam and the Her Story website.

Dragon Warrior - The Original

I recently beat the original Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest outside of North America) approximately 25 years after its North American release, and I have to admit I'm pretty proud of the achievement. It's not the most complex or puzzling game ever made, but it has had a special aura of mystery for me since I first saw it.

This would have been in the early 90s at a friend's house whose dad was into video games, and at the time my understanding of video games was side-scrolling platform games like Super Mario. In fact, I can distinctly remember the ability to jump off of walls and move your perspective up and down as well as side to side in Batman for the NEW being particularly mind-blowing. If you played games like these you probably remember that as soon as you turned the power off you started over, no matter how much progress you made (This also led to some of my friends taking pictures of the finished game screen as an actual trophy/achievement before the system makers formalized this). Dragon Warrior was different; you could talk to the king and he would record your progress in a 'scroll' for when you came back. No one was really sure how this worked, but we were pretty sure it was some form of witchcraft (ok, I'm exaggerating, we had floppy disks and could transfer data). This ability to save was necessary as the median time to complete the game is about 13 hours.

There was another aspect to the game that was new to me; the ability to gain experience and change your weapons/armor to increase your capabilities. The fact that your character changed throughout the game based on your actions outside of a couple different abilities (like throwing fireballs) was incredibly cool to me, and still is today.

Just to increase the mystique of the game there was a map (A MAP!!!!), but you had to create your own maps of dungeons to be able to navigate them effectively, and test different strategies against different opponents to best leverage your abilities and advance in the game. It goes without saying that I did not defeat the game as a child, a 15 hour commitment might as well have been a jail sentence, but I am happy to have played through it now.

Plus I sprung for a complete set of all the things that originally came with the game. To quote Ferris: "So choice"