Three Fourths Home Review: Its Genre's Game of the Year
When playing a video game, I always focus on several factors, like most reviewers do. The thing with narrative games though, is that various aspects of the game are cut down in order to focus more on the story and the characters. There nothing wrong with this; it’s just a different kind of game, and one that I really enjoy playing on occasion.
Three Fourths Home is by far one of the best narrative games that I have ever played, bar none. The game, which is only an hour long, and around the price you would pay to rent a movie from Amazon, impacted me more than some games that are several hours long.
A simple yet masterful design
Three Fourths Home was made by [bracket]games, who designed the game after their own personal experiences. The game focuses on Kelly, a young woman in her mid-20s who has returned home for the first time in years. When the game starts out, she’s in the middle of nowhere. It starts to rain. She begins to drive when her phone rings. And so the story begins.
The game is focused around driving and talking on the phone with your family. The only way you can talk on the phone and forward the story is by driving in order to get closer to home. The game really does feel like you are driving down a Nebraskan road in the middle of nowhere, with the scenery constantly changing as you further the story.
You can keep your foot on the gas to keep driving, fiddle with the various things in the car and finally talk on the phone. You need to continue your conversation with your family in order to forward the story. This is a simple concept, and may not seem like much.But with the black and white art style, combined with the overall tone of the story, it really feels as if you are absorbed in this melancholic story of family drama.
Every piece of dialogue actually means something
Your family is a big part of your interactions in Three Fourths Home; it’s the entire reason Kelly was out in the middle of nowhere in the first place. Part of the gameplay focusses on Kelly answering her family members on the phone, each answer determining what sort of relationship you have with them.
According to the website, there are over 500 dialogue choices. Each choice, everything you say, shapes the story that you have with your family. Kelly is a somewhat blank slate when it comes to her family life, and your choices fill those blanks in. Kelly becomes a three-dimensional character because of you and how you answer her family. It’s a very immersive way of determining just who Kelly really is.
All of the family members act like real people
Unlike other entries in the Narrative Games genre, Three Fourths Home stands out because it actually develops all of its characters. You learn about your mother, father, and younger brother in equal doses - not forsaking one character's development for the other. Everyone has story, it’s just a matter of whether or not you’re interested in hearing it.
The characters aren’t clichéd stereotypes. They talk and react just like normal human beings when something happens. You can feel the warmth when you father calls you baby doll over the phone, the disappointment when your mother talks to you about getting a job, and the utter confusion of your brother reacting to various aspects of the world around him. During each of these conversations, you can respond in a variety of ways and with each response they return an answer you’d expect from family members in real life. They have real problems and traits that you can relate to.
This isn’t just any family; depending on your answers this can actually feel like your own family.
Brillantly woven together like a short story
Three Fourths Home was written by a group of people who are able to relate to these kinds of aspects of family. With all of the joys, there comes an equal amount of sorrow, and that is what they express in this game. This game very much resembles a short story, leaving the player at a place of confusion and turmoil by the very end of it all.
If you enjoy games based on narrative or if you just enjoy brilliantly written family based stories in general I’d highly recommend you pick this up. It is worth the emotional roller coaster it provides. It is by far the most immerseive of these narrative games that I've ever played and if there was one game from this genre that deserves to win Game of the Year it's this one.
Three Fourths Home is available on the [bracket]games website and at the Humble Store for only $ 3.39.