Also On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
I feel like Three Fourths Home is a game that everyone should play once. Anything more than that, and you start noticing some of the game's cracks and flaws. But one playthrough? You pretty much owe it to yourself to experience the game.
"Experience", in this case, is the key word, since Three Fourths Home is essentially a visual novel. A Westernized take on a genre that seems much more common in Japan, to be sure, but a visual novel nonetheless. The entirety of the game is built around a girl's phone conversation with her family as she drives home in the midst of an increasingly bad storm. And that's pretty much it. Your actions consist of pressing a button to keep the car moving forward, and picking which line of dialogue you want to say next.
Which is why you may not want to play Three Fourths Home more than once. Going back to the game for additional playthroughs reveals that much of the dialogue is still funneled through a few key points. It may branch off in a couple of new directions every so often, but ultimately you'll still wind up at the same places. Consequently, statements that are impactful or interesting the first time around become less so when you read them subsequent times.
Still, that first time you read through…oof. It doesn't take long for the conversation to take a heavy turn, as you quickly find out the family has been through some tough times. Job losses, disabilities, heartbreaks, addiction, struggles: all of these things play a role in the story, and all of them are capable of hitting you like a tonne of bricks. It's never sensationalized, but instead is presented in a realistic, manner-of-fact way, which, in its own way, makes them all the more painfully felt. For this, [broken]games deserves all kinds of plaudits; games seldom resist the urge to explain everything, and consequently dialogue rarely sounds as if it's being spoken by real people. Three Fourths Home never suffers from that problem.
The game's amazing dialogue is backed up by top-notch visuals and sound. Graphically, Three Fourths Home may be fairly sparse-looking, but that just helps to reinforce the dialogue that you're reading. (It also has to be said that the text here is incredibly readable, which isn't normally praise-worthy, but it bears mentioning in this case since you'll be looking at a lot of it.) Even more importantly, the game's music and ambient noises do a tremendous job of adding to the atmosphere: whether it's the sparse score playing out on the world's strangest radio station, the ever-heavier rain pounding on your car, or the distant-but-insistent wail of tornado sirens, the game gradually builds tension in a way that's sure to hold your attention, regardless of how many times you've played through.
Of course, I still maintain that you'll only want to play Three Fourths Home once. But believe me, that one time is totally worth it, with every aspect of the game being done so well. Add in the fact that it's only about five dollars, and that you can finish that playthrough in one hour-long (if we're being especially generous, and throwing in the epilogue for good measure), and…well, there's really no reason why you should skip it.