Telling Lies

Telling Lies

Telling Lies is the successor to Her Story, and it makes me wonder if Her Story might have been a once-in-a-lifetime game. Some of the novelty of the mechanics and structure was expected to wear off in the intervening years, but that’s actually not the culprit here. There haven’t been many other titles in the category of investigating a mystery by searching for keywords in a fragmented database of one-sided video clips. The real failing here is the greater scope and lack of ambiguity. In Her Story, there were multiple complete explanations for events but no clear correct choice, so there was still motivation to seek out additional information even after the mystery was technically solved. This is not the case in Telling Lies, and it means there’s a stretch of several hours where you’re basically just finding the “official” solutions to questions you’ve already answered.

The tedium is exacerbated by focusing on four main characters and using a phone call format. While it’s initially interesting to use clues found in one half of a conversation to uncover the other half, it eventually devolves into simply watching every conversation twice. Additionally, the inability to simply play a clip from the beginning with a single button press is baffling. It’s a shame, because the story itself is a meaningful, appropriately tangled mystery, albeit a slightly farfetched one. The symbol-drenched writing has improved such that I could only spot the seams where keywords were artificially inserted into dialogue because I was specifically looking for them. The presentation is nearly flawless, including the actors, who all put in outstanding performances. Unfortunately, in a game that’s all about investigation, losing engagement with that investigation process is a hurdle that can’t be overcome by writing and presentation.

6/10
6/10

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