Making the journey home.
In Three Fourths Home you experience the ‘imperfect family.’ All of the arguing, the brutally honest banter with a sibling and the loving concern from a mother or father that seems like they’re practically barging into your life. The is the culmination of those many moments that we often have with our own families. At its core developer [bracket]games creates a heartfelt, interactive narrative that tells the story of a Nebraskan family with their own quirks and struggles during a car ride home where a storm slowly approaches.
It is through the eyes of Kelly Meyers, the eldest daughter of the family, that players will relate to the Meyers family in this interactive short story. The story begins at your grandfather’s farm in rural Nebraska, some 20 odd miles away from home. You receive a call from your Mom and are on your way home while speaking to her and the rest of your family for remaining car ride home.
Controls are simplistic in that you need only hold a button down to drive, with the option of trying to adjust the radio station for music or flicker your headlights on or off. The crux of the story is told through exchanges between yourself as Kelly and the rest of your family on the phone. Dialogue options dictate the mood and direction of your conversation, allowing you to learn more about your respective family members and their lives. The story does not continue unless you keep driving, pushing the narrative to match the pace at which you cross rural Nebraska.
The story dances boldly with the notion of an estranged homecoming. Kelly returns after four years at college with limited contact with her family. In those four years, her family has suffered their own share of tragedies and tribulations. The conversation you make with your Mom, Dad, and brother Benjamin helps to fill in those gaps. You’re presented every opportunity to see reflections of yourself (the player) during those momentary exchanges during both the humourous quips and the more serious subjects. Yet the more you learn, the more you realize how fragile your family has become. No matter how you respond, the wind continues to blow and the rain continues to fall harder.
The atmosphere is often tense. The intensity of the storm only increases as you drive home. The developer’s decision to only allow story progression and dialogue to continue so long as your driving is quite on-the-nose, but nonetheless effective. Apart from a few set pieces along the ride you will often be flanked by high rows of corn and wind turbines around you, isolating you and your family’s problems. It highlights the fact that like many awkward conversations to come, there is nowhere to look to but forward.
The ‘Extended Edition’ epilogue contrasts the ‘go-forward’ approach of the main title. Once again as Kelly, you are given a more melancholic approach and far more abstract story. As Kelly talks exclusively to her Mom over the phone, waiting for a bus, you the player are left to decide the fate of what happened in the main story, and again left to decide whether the events taking place are a flashback, or indeed a follow-up immediately after. It plays on the notion of ‘What-if’, allowing the player to decide the fate of the Meyers. Bonus features allow you to see deeper into Kelly’s college life through her photography and Benjamin’s short stories that serve as subtext for his own feelings of loneliness. This deeper insight only adds to the weight of your impression of the Meyer family.
The story of millennial Kelly and her struggling family is a relatable experience for all. Each conversation is carefully crafted and while I struggle to call this a traditional ‘game’ it nonetheless left me pondering the fate of characters I thought fondly of towards the end of this two-hour experience. The interactive medium is meant to be exciting, thought provoking, and engaging. Though it meets some parts by the bare minimum, Three Fourths Home captures audiences in a grounded tale about what it truly means to finally come home.
Dynamic use of Atmosphere
Good Replay Value
Developer: [bracket] games
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
Release Date: March 20, 2015.
Reviewed on the retailer version of the game on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.