This interactive story will leave you feeling melancholy.
You enter this interactive story as Kelly, a college-aged young woman who is disappointed in where life has landed her: back in her small Nebraska town, under her parents’ roof again. You start your car and head for home, rows of cornfields zipping past as you fiddle with the music in your car. Then you receive a call. Your mother is worried about you. It is late, and a storm is coming. Her concern for you becomes the starting point for a conversation that grasps at a history nobody seems willing to face head on, and as you select dialogue you begin to uncover some of the secrets that have kept Kelly’s family all at a distance.
The design of this game is striking. Black and white silhouettes make up the car and the rows of corn in the Nebraska landscape. The sound of rain as the storm picks up and the soft music in your car immerse you in a space that feels almost like a dream.
There isn’t much to do, simply decide how to respond as you head home. The choices of dialogue are varied enough to give you a stake in the conversation, and you must carefully choose responses in order to find out what you can about Kelly’s tensions with her family. Besides the dialogue, nothing else is in your control, and the storm continues to rage around you, giving you an overall sense of helplessness.
In order to keep the conversation/car moving, you must hold down ZR to drive, a mechanic which, in my opinion, grew quickly tedious. Rather than adding to the sense of urgency, this left me frustrated. My finger was cramping, but any time I moved it or switched fingers the car came to a slow stop and the progress of the phone call halted. My first playthrough only took about an hour for the main story, but that is a long time to hold down ZR. It made me reluctant to go through the game a second time.
You can replay it, though, and change your dialogue choices to find out more about Kelly’s family and their relationships. The desire to replay it and find out more left me mulling over the events, which I think fits one of the themes of the story: the human tendency to replay our pasts over and over in our minds. The epilogue adds another layer to the story, and there is also some interesting bonus content you can explore to piece together what happened.
Three Fourths Home feels like reading a short story more than playing a game, which is expected for interactive fiction. I personally wish there had been more to do, but the dialogue told the story and gave me lots to think about. If you want an interesting story about relationships and regret that will give you a few hours of entertainment, this is worth picking up.