Video games are a diverse medium, aren’t they? Some have you jumping platforms, or shooting other people, or driving like a maniac in a busy city. Then there are some that take a little risk and try something different. These types of games aren’t for everyone, but sometimes they can provide a unique experience for the gamer- and that’s what Telling Lies is all about. But sometimes being unique isn’t enough, it’s also about how well it’s executed that determines how good the game actually is. Read on to find out whether Telling Lies’ unique style really pays off in the end.
This will actually be quite a difficult game to review, because even telling you names of the characters would be considered spoilers as this is something you’re meant to discover yourself.
Like one of the developer’s previous games, Her Story, this game has you searching through a laptop for various video clips revolving around 4 main characters. You do this simply by entering a keyword (or words) to find relevant clips. For example, if a character mentions a company or a person’s name, and you feel that may hold vital clues to unravelling the overall story, you search those terms to find clips relating to them. It’s by doing this that you continue to dig deeper and eventually discover the full story and motivations of some of the characters.
Sounds interesting, hey? But sadly, to me, it doesn’t quite live up. The story itself just wasn’t interesting enough even to captivate me throughout most of my playthrough. In this type of game you expect there to be twists and big moments to make digging through clips exciting and even addictive. I’ll admit there were maybe a couple of moments that had big reveals, but they only got a ‘Oh ok’ reaction out of me, rather than a “Wow that was huge!”.
Aside from discovering the story, another goal is working out the role and purpose of each character. I did enjoy this part of the game because each of their individual story threads were very different from one another. But I just wish they intertwined more than they actually did, with one particular character feeling almost irrelevant from the game’s overall story.
The acting of the characters though was actually pretty good, and the way they had to deliver their lines for such an extended period of time (in some scenes anyway), all the while staying in character, was impressive. So that’s at least one positive to take away from the game.
It’s not just the story that felt underwhelming, but the process of discovering it wasn’t much more enjoyable. Watching scenes that range from 1-10 minutes, trying to find new clues and twists, would be a great experience if the contents of the clips were actually interesting. But they rarely are. The vast majority of them feature one of the characters having a conversation with another using video chat on their phone, but because you can only see one side of the conversation at a time, you’ll have to deal with long periods of seeing the character staring at the screen just listening until they finally speak again. It’s both boring and creepy at the same time!
A feature that would have been great is the ability to watch both characters in the conversation at the same time, like having both clips playing side by side so you can get the full picture straight away rather than these awkward one-sided chats. Speaking of the clips, you can only start watching them based on where your specified keyword started in the clip, meaning if you want to watch the entire thing, you would have to use the painfully slow rewind function.
By the game’s end, you should have seen enough of the clips to get a good idea of the story, even if you don’t see every clip available. The ending, and main purpose, of the overall game was interesting, but I was still left a little confused to what the whole point of it is. I won’t give any spoilers, but the game doesn’t give enough explanation to the purpose of the game’s ending. I guess it’s a fitting way to cap off a slightly interesting, but sometimes awkward and boring, experience of a game. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love unique storytelling, if anything, it’s one of the best things about many of my favourite games. I just don’t believe it was executed well here.
Like I said with my review of the game Erica, FMV games have a lot of potential to give us something special and unique. Unfortunately Erica wasn’t the game to explode the genre’s popularity, and neither is Telling Lies.
While the acting is very good from all characters, and there are some interesting moments sprinkled throughout the story, they’re just too few and far between. The unique way this game tells its story is commendable, but just wasn’t interesting enough to keep me feeling hooked.
It wasn’t an overly long game either, and sometimes less is more, so I can be thankful for that. But you can play Solitaire on the game’s laptop, which was probably the most fun I had here.