Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition has got to be one of the weirdest games I have played this year. It falls along the same line as this “narrative-heavy point-and-click adventure” game I reviewed a few months ago. However, at least the developer, [bracket]games, has given this game a better facade than 8-bit graphics.
Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition is essentially a modern text-based game, relying heavily on the narrative rather than gameplay. According to a press release on the PlayStation Blog, the game is based on one of the developer’s real life experience of moving forward – one of life’s little inevitabilities. Boy, is this a game that forces the inevitable.
In Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition, you control Kelly Meyers. Let me take that back.; you control Kelly Meyers’ thoughts and communicative decisions. Kelly is driving back to her home in Nebraska and is 20 miles from getting there. She faces a problem though. A huge storm has hit the area and is impeding her drive back. So what does she do? She calls her family while driving. Disclaimer: ThatVideoGameBlog DOES NOT encourage its readers to talk on the phone while driving in a storm for safety reasons.
As part of the game’s theme of inevitability, you will be forced to learn her family’s eccentricities. These include her mother’s worrisome attitude, her dad’s coping mechanism with his phantom pain, and her brother’s obsession with the weather. You will also learn more about Kelly, since the game is more about her story; her interactions with her family depend on your choices and how you respond to her family’s interrogations on the phone. However, after you have just scratched the surface on what is going on, another inevitable event happens and the game is over.
Luckily, there is an epilogue that comes with the Extended Edition that explores a little about Kelly’s past and her interactions with her mother. Unlike the main story, the epilogue is capable of giving three endings, depending on Kelly’s choices with her mom’s questions. What the epilogue does not accomplish, however, is giving the story completion – since the epilogue is really a prologue – and you never really know what happens after the inevitable “event” of the main story.
The gameplay of Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition is just like any other text-based game: choose an answer and move forward. That’s pretty much the whole game: chatting on the phone, and that’s both in the main story and epilogue. The game does have a gimmicky element to it. On the main story, you kind of control Kelly’s car by pressing a button, which also progresses the story. It’s like this: you could be deep in conversation with Kelly’s dad, and while you are perusing the answers you can give to him, if you let go of the button that is driving Kelly’s car, everything stops to a halt. Yes, not only does the car stop, the rain stops, the music in the car stops, the dialogue stops. So essentially, the whole time in the main story, you are holding some random button in order to play the game. A little annoying and quite gimmicky. At least the epilogue is not quite so bad, you get to actually walk backwards (you are walking in the epilogue) and everything does not stop just because you stopped walking forward.
As a text-based game, expect the game to be a little short. If you are just rushing to get the achievements and not read anything, you can finish the main story and the three epilogue endings in an hour. However, you will be missing the most of what the game offers, and that is not what I recommend for the enjoyment of the game.
In fact, the narrative is where Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition excels in. Kelly’s interactions with her family is eerily relative to at least our interactions with one of our own family members. It has that sense of authenticity, since it probably came from the same interactions the developer has had with his own family.
What sets the game apart from most text-based games, however, is there is some kind of visual element that helps you see what is going on in Kelly’s world. While most of the time, you are just seeing corn stalks and rain, there are a few times when a visual cue will be spoken about in the phone, and you will see it in the screen. The visual element helps a little, but not a whole lot.
To Buy or Not to Buy?
Honestly, if you are a text-based game enthusiast, then go for it. Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition will be a good read, and the hint of novelty with the visual element will be a nice touch. However, if you are looking for a game with some action, this is not the game for you.