Game review: Three Fourths Home
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Playstation Vita / PC
THE plot of Three Fourths Home, an indie game that has divided opinion since its release on PC earlier this year, is presented with no backstory or context. All you know is that you play Kelly, a twentysomething who has endured a difficult time and has recently returned home to her family, a unit that has experienced its own tribulations of late. The games see you driving home during a storm while talking on the telephone with Kelly’s mother, father and brother, conversations through which you are invited to discern what has gone wrong and, perhaps, find a way to put things right.
In a medium that is fiercely prescriptive about what a game should be, it is a left field idea. Save for the use of the right-hand trigger on the controller to accelerate, the only mechanics to speak of are the dialogue options presented to Kelly, selected via buttons on the controller. Predictably, this has led to some critics questioning the validity of Three Fourths Home and unfairly so; it is effectively a short story told through the visual and audio of a game and deserves to be assessed on its own merits.
The visual style adds to the unsettling atmosphere
The dialogue is presented in the form of text below a 2D representation of an anonymous Midwestern highway. As the conversations play out, you pass through high contrast monochrome landscapes of windfarms, ramshackle buildings and cornfields. Combined with an ambient indie soundtrack, the visual style, influenced by Alexander Payne’s film, Nebraska, conjures up an unsettling atmosphere that complements the taut, tense narrative.
The main story takes less than an hour to complete but as will become clear, you are encouraged to play through it for a second time to experiment with different dialogue choices. Hindsight reveals your decisions have a significant impact on how the conversations play out and the process of experimentation feels like a more sombre version of a choose your own adventure book. The newly released extended edition also includes an epilogue that seeks to add to your understanding of Kelly and her family, but it never quite rivals the main part of the game for emotional resonance.
It is an experiment in tone and mood
All in, it is more of a concept than it is a fully fledged game, an experiment in tone and mood that at times hits compelling notes. The experience may leave some people feeling short changed if not downright confused, but given it costs just £3.99, it is worth seeking out, if only to enjoy a change of pace to the flurry of all action triple A games that have come out in recent weeks.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
If the main story gripped you, be sure to look through the miscellaneous material in the extras menu.
It is possible to skip some of the dialogue during repeat playthroughs.
The soundtrack is one of the highlights of the game and it can be played in full via the main menu.