The tornado warning sirens roar in the background while I press on the gas pedal of my car as hard as I can. My heart races as I drive recklessly past rows of corn and through heavy rain, trying to make my way home to my family as quickly as possible. Before I can find out whether or not my family is safe, the credits roll, and I’m forced to reflect on what might possibly be my last conversation with them over the phone.
It’s not often that a games narrative is the highlight of the review, but when the story is this engaging and interesting as it is in Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition, it’s hard not to discuss it in depth. Developed by Bracket Games, Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition is a thrilling interactive game about a girl trying to reconcile with her dysfunctional family. You play as Kelly, a recent college dropout who moves back home with her family in Nebraska. The main game takes place entirely in Kelly’s car as she drives home after visiting her grandparent’s barn. During the hour or so car ride, she has a conversation with her family about her job interview, her past relationships, her doubts and insecurities about her future, and several other topics.
Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita
Developer: [bracket] Games
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
Release Date: 09 October 2015
Price: $4.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer/Publisher]
There isn’t much in terms of gameplay in Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition. In fact the only thing that you use the controller for aside from selecting the dialogue choices is holding down the right trigger to move the car forward (or move left or right during the epilogue). You are also able to turn on and off the radio, but the main thing that you’ll be doing is selecting Kelly’s responses. Much like any other adventure game, there are several moments in which you are able to select a few dialogue options in response to your family’s inquiries. These various options don’t drastically affect the overall story as it does in other adventure games, but it’s a nice touch being able to react warmly to your mothers concerns, or dismiss them entirely with an annoyed response.
As simple as the concept sounds, the dialogue options and excellent writing kept me engaged throughout the entire playthrough. The conversation starts off light and humorous, but changes in tone when the topic becomes more serious. Kelly’s father was the victim of a recent work related accident, which resulted in the loss of his driving leg. Because of this, he is unable to work and help support his family, and resorts to drinking in order to cope with his pain. Kelly’s brother suffers from a mental disorder, most likely a form of autism.
He’s unable to react properly to body language or proper social cues, and speaks bluntly without any sort of filter. As such, he sticks mostly to himself and occupies himself with writing his short stories which are quite bizarre and almost incomprehensible. Kelly herself is struggling with a recent break up and the difficulties of finding a good job after moving back home. Not surprisingly, Kelly’s mother struggles to deal with all of this, but tries her best to put on a brave face for the sake of her family despite overwhelming difficulties.
There’s a sense of urgency as a severe storm builds up and sightings of tornado’s touching down in the county is reported on the news as the story progresses. The rainfall in the background becomes heavier, and intense lightning flashes become more frequent as you reach the climax. Despite that, there were times where I was too focused on the conversation and the drama following the argument between Kelly and her family that I completely ignored it. That is, until the phone dies and you lose all communication with them. Needless to say, the entire experience was an emotional rollercoaster. By the end of it I reflected on everything that was talked about, and wondered if I said the right things.
On top of the main story, the game offers an epilogue which takes place months before the events of the main story. It takes place in Minnesota as you are waiting for a bus. You can choose to take the bus and proceed with the canonical events, or you can choose to call your mother and talk about your problems and doubts. It doesn’t really provide any resolution unfortunately, but it does offer a bit more insight and history regarding the tension between Kelly and her mother. There are other extras offered in the game such as a radio which includes the games soundtracks, a collection of Ben’s stories that you can read through, and a collection of photos used for one of Kelly’s school projects. These all provide an excellent means of connecting and understanding these characters a bit more outside of the main story.
Overall, Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition has its fair share of emotional peaks and valleys. Regardless of the choices you make, the entire conversation feels organic and real. It’s a story that will likely resonate with most of its intended audience, even if their situations are completely different. Being that there is hardly any gameplay in it at all, this seems like something that would have been better off as a short film, or light novel. Since the main story takes place entirely on the road, there wasn’t much to do as the player besides stopping the car, which by doing so also stops the story as well. However, in its simplicity lies a story that is both succinct and resonating. If anything it’ll certainly remind you to tell your friends and family that you love them the next time you talk to them.