Her Story Creator Wants Fans to Debate Ending
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories' developer and writer Sam Barlow wants fans to speculate and debate on what really happened in his FMV-based mystery title, Her Story.
In an interview with Polygon, Sam Barlow admits that he knows the truth when it comes to what happened to Simon Smith's disappearance in 1994 and his wife Hannah's involvement in it as told in the unique game, Her Story. For those who are missing out, Her Story is a mystery game where you must sift through a collection of FMV interviews with Hannah Smith and detectives using a retro-style police computer to investigate her husband's disappearance. You have to use a search engine and input keywords to find short, specific clips of her series of interviews that relate to the keyword you entered (such as "murder," "money," "disappearance" and so on). It's up to you to decide Hannah's involvement and let the story unfold by playing the role of a detective yourself, searching for important names, places, dates and events revealed in Hannah's testimony.
The non-linear approach for letting Her Story's narrative unfold leaves many players conflicted as to what really happened. As for Barlow, he's soaking up all the comments, theories and speculations and enjoying how fans are interpreting his awesome work:
The interesting aspect to all of that is just they're all different angles on the same idea. They're all dealing with a kind of duality ... I guess it's less important for me to define that.
My notes and my current understanding is that there's a definitive version of the story that I have in my head. Certainly of what happened prior to the various interviews; this was important as well because all of the detectives' dialogue was fully scripted as well.
Obviously when you remove all the questions of the detectives — obviously there are a lot more questions — but for the detectives to be asking those questions and have their line of inquiry that would have to be quite well thought out.
Barlow is taking the right route in making sure that he doesn't flat out tell the story from A to B; ambiguity, controversy and debate is always better and more long-lasting when it comes to storytelling than an open and shut case in my opinion. He also admits that there's a secret command in using the '90s police computer interface in the game that no one has picked up on yet.
"It's purely there to allow people to share their searches," Barlow said. "I'll do something cool with it on my website."
In terms of whether or not he'll use the FMV format again in his next game, Barlow had some intriguing comments:
"I have ideas that are quite different to this — but still revolve around video — that I think could be quite interesting. I guess because just using video is quite a different thing in the larger world of games, I don't want to become 'the video guy.'"
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