Three Fourths Home
Developer: Bracket Games
Release Date: 10 May 2018
Price: $8.99 / £7.19
Reviewed by Antonio Guillen
Discussing Three Fourths Home in any detail would be a disservice to you and the game. It’s extremely brief story is the crux of the experience and there honestly isn’t much to spoil. All you need to know (or should know) going in is that you play as a girl driving home, and on your way back a phone conversation plays out.
The game is hard-core minimalist. Visually there just isn’t much going on for most of the journey. Your car moves across a rural road as evidenced by corn stalks and a few other landmarks passing you by. The world is fairly monotone and intentionally bleak.
The controls are extremely simple, you must continually press down on the gas to advance the story, let go and the car stops and the scene freezes, rain animations and all. There’s no need to steer, or pay attention to anything but the conversation that plays out as lines of text on the lower half of the screen.
With no voice acting to speak of, your task is to read through both sides of the conversation and intermintendly make dialogue choices.
Edge of your seat
The entire ride I felt unsafe. The game’s ability to evoke anticipation and anxiety is it’s main achievement. Using only basic sound effects, passive aggressive dialogue and a few unexpected story beats I was on the edge of my seat.
There’s some good character building, enough to get me invested in the outcome of the story. The dialogue starts out familiar and then takes a dramatic right turn toward greatness. There are stories told within the story that are incredibly well-written and fascinating.
The game shines in these moments, but the shift is so dramatic from the rest of the discourse that these literary treasures felt out of place and made the rest of the conversations feel hollow by comparison.
Fork in the road
As I prepared myself for the revelation or event or climax of the story the credits rolled. Nothing was ‘just around the corner’ as I had expected, or had been lead to believe. I assume that my dialogue choices had affected the outcome of the story and that I had gotten the ‘bad’ ending.
I honestly didn’t feel like the options open to me were significantly different at the time so I just responded and probed as I would in real life. This isn’t what the game wanted, so the journey abruptly came to a close without any climax.
I thought to myself, ‘there must be more here, hidden somewhere’. The only way to be certain that my actions influenced the game would be to replay and try to find it. When I looked back on my time I just couldn’t get over the feeling that a second trip would feel like a punishment, so I opted out. I feel like a second playthrough is something you shouldn’t force on players but instead treat them with as a reward.
Oddly you can choose to listen to some tunes by turning on the car stereo, and you also have the option to use the car horn. I don’t believe these choices were significant, but it should be noted that I opted to ride sans-stereo and instead take in the ambient noise of the drive.
This Extended Edition of the game includes an epilogue that claims to expand on the story of the main game. It also included a handful of additional short stories that reach the caliber of the literary gems in the main story. I enjoyed my time the most when diving into these excellent tales, I only wish they were complete novels instead of brief extras so I could spend even more time in these worlds.
In the epilogue I was once again I was given the choice to influence the story, my experience lasted a few minutes at best. If the main story felt hollow, this experience was laughably weak. Again, I can only assume that there is some ‘right’ combination of choices that would grant me access to the story, but the game never earned my curiosity to find it.
Three Fourths Home is a brief and ominous experience. The game takes you for a ride and continually raises the emotional temperature but ultimately fizzles out. I was taken by surprise by hints of literary strength, but in the end I felt like I never reached a destination.
Pros & Cons
+ Evokes emotions
+ Hints of amazing writing
- Hardcore minimalist
- Story doesn’t payoff
- Extremely short