Originally released in 2014 by Bracket Games, Three Fourths Home has been re-released on Steam with an “Extended Edition” to include numerous extras and an entirely new epilogue that serves to both give context to the story and tie up loose ends from the original narrative. Simplistic in nature, Three Fourths Home abandons deep gameplay for simple button presses and the story gains a lot from this. This game is solely based on story and it has a tale worth hearing. Three Fourths Home lets its players substitute themselves for its silent characters, becoming one with its story. The game’s wonderful sound design, simple gameplay, and wonderful and immersive story make this a game that is entirely worth checking out.
The game tells the story of Kelly, a girl in her mid-twenties who has just moved back in with her family in an unnamed small Nebraska town. One morning Kelly decides to go for a ride. After being gone awhile she receives a call from her mother, worried about the approaching storm and wondering when her daughter will return home. The two find themselves in conversation about Kelly’s family, her father’s issues with drinking and the episodes her brother Ben experiences after an accident involving him and his father. As the storm grows more intense and the threat of tornadoes in the area rears its head, Kelly speaks to the members of her family, never once stopping the car and further letting players into her world.
The game requires players to do nothing other than keep the car moving and choose Kelly’s responses. Three Fourths Home makes story the focal point of the entire game, featuring the most basic gameplay, and it thrives because of this. As Kelly speaks to her parents and Ben, the story of a family slowly being torn apart unrolls, but it’s not exclusively Kelly’s story.
Characters are faceless and voiceless, with dialogue only presented as on-screen text and it quickly becomes easy for players to substitute themselves for Kelly. Similar to works by TellTale Games, Three Fourths Home gives players the choice over how Kelly will respond, whether that be in agreement, defiance, or avoidance. But each choice comes with its own outcome. As Kelly’s mother badgers her over not staying in contact with the family, players can choose to change the subject. But, more than that, the voiceless characters allow players to add context to each response, making one player’s truth the other player’s lie. I quickly found myself forgetting entirely that Kelly was driving this car through a never-ending Nebraska landscape. It became me that was driving the car and it was me responding. Three Fourths Home’s characters remain anonymous through the duration of the game, letting willing player’s see themselves in the story.
Three Fourths Home has simple graphics, but they are effective. Rain constantly falls as the player drives down the road, often obstructing the view of the car, buildings pass in the background, and lightning illuminates the mountains in the distance. Much like the controls, the game’s visual style remains subtle, as to not detract from the narrative.
Where the game does excel in presentation is with the sound. Until the very end, the game features no music, only the sound of the world. Rain constantly falls, the low rumble of distant thunder creeps up as to remind Kelly of the impending storm, and things such as air raid sirens blaring in the background do a lot to add to the over all atmosphere of the game. Headphones are recommended while playing Three Fourths Home, and letting yourself be shut off from the rest of the world while you play, hearing nothing but the constant storm, really helps pull you into the story.
The Extended Edition of the game features a new epilogue that takes place before Kelly has moved back to Nebraska. While waiting for a bus in her former home of Minnesota, Kelly once again speaks with her mother. Conversations vary from small talk, to Kelly’s admittance that she isn’t doing well in school, and her mother’s issues with Kelly’s lack of communication with the family. This epilogue does a lot to give context to the story told in Three Fourths Home, further letting player’s into Kelly and her family’s world. Conversations can become heated between the two and showcase the strain put between the mother and daughter by both distance and guilt.
Three Fourths Home’s story is excellent. Like mentioned before, the faceless, voiceless characters allow players to substitute themselves in the game’s narrative. This is truly the highlight of the game, and also where the story proves how powerful it is. Three Fourths Home makes players look at themselves and their relationships with loved ones, and maybe it isn’t always the prettiest picture. Kelly has no face. The character invites players to see themselves from her perspective and they are offered varied responses that lack the context of a voice, allowing player’s to give answers their own inflections. As the story progresses and the game allows you to see inside this family and see where its issues lie, Three Fourths Home’s invitation for players to mirror themselves within the game’s narrative becomes increasingly more powerful.[vimeo 120018529 w=500 h=281]
Three Fourths Home challenges what a game is. It requires the most basic button presses to operate, but the game itself goes so much deeper than that. Completely abandoning the context of what people may think a game should be, Three Fourths Home goes off on its own and tells the story it wants to tell. Its immersive story and sound and the way it lets players see themselves within the world make this a powerful game that is worth experiencing during the short amount of time it is on-screen.
5 out of 5
- Great story
- Immersive sound and narrative
- Gives players a bit to think about after the game is over