FMV-based mystery game Her Story has two hotly debated interpretations of its conclusion, but only one definitive truth to its narrative. Unfortunately for fans, however, creator Sam Barlow told Polygon he has no intention of weighing in on its ambiguous ending.
Her Story, which launched earlier this summer, is about unraveling the specifics of a murder from the ‘90s. How players get to that answer is up to them. Her Story relies on a search-heavy, non-linear mechanic that sends players digging through fictitious police archives to retrieve old interview clips. Even if you manage to uncover every last detail, it's completely possible that you'll never figure out the real story.
For Barlow, that's sort of the fun of it. He's aware of both fan theories about the game's ending, and yes, one of them might even be right.
"The interesting aspect to all of that is just they're all different angles on the same idea," Barlow said. "They're all dealing with a kind of duality ... I guess it's less important for me to define that. I'm probably unlikely to come out and express my opinion on that."
He pointed to his work on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and how much he wanted to keep the ambiguity there.
"I was always loathe to express my opinion on any of that because I don't think it's necessary," he said. "I think it's quite fine for people to have their own opinions of where that stuff stands."
Barlow is surprised that Her Story's conclusion is debated at all because he's taken aback by the size of the game's audience. And he certainly didn't expect people to gather and discuss their experiences so widely.
"My notes and my current understanding is that there's a definitive version of the story that I have in my head," Barlow said. "Certainly of what happened prior to the various interviews; this was important as well because all of the detectives' dialogue was fully scripted as well.
"Obviously when you remove all the questions of the detectives — obviously there are a lot more questions — but for the detectives to be asking those questions and have their line of inquiry that would have to be quite well thought out."
Barlow has no plans to release those detective questions, though he did consider it for a short time. There's a lot of material that was created specifically for the game — props, stories, that kind of thing — that he considered including in the game as some sort of extra content. But it would have eaten away at the game's core premise: language, and the importance of how you use it.
"There's a definitive version of the story that I have in my head."
"Maybe there's a place, when everyone in the world has played it and enjoyed it, I can do a supplementary — the kind of stuff that would be in an art book or whatever," he said. "Throw in all that stuff so people can see."
There is at least one more thing fans can look forward to. Her Story contains one secret command that the creator hasn't told anyone about yet.
"It's purely there to allow people to share their searches," Barlow said. "I'll do something cool with it on my website."
Barlow said he's taking some time to figure out what he'll work on next. Although many of his ideas currently involve video elements again, he's wary of leaning too heavily on it.
"I have ideas that are quite different to this — but still revolve around video — that I think could be quite interesting," Barlow said. "I guess because just using video is quite a different thing in the larger world of games, I don't want to become 'the video guy.'"