By Alice O'Connor on July 15th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.
As someone who always leaves their phone to ring into the answering machine, Three Fourths Home lets me briefly experience being a good daughter. It’s an interactive story about a phone call with your family while driving through a storm, one hand controlling your car and the other your conversation. It’s a short, pleasant, and slightly affecting experience, out now on itch.io for $3.99.
It has a clever split between real-time driving and conversation menus, and I really do like how this takes two hands, forcing players to physically multitask too.
While the bottom of the screen goes to usual dialogue menus, controlled with arrow keys, the top is a beautiful animated view of your car trundling through the Nebraska countryside, stalks of corn flitting past and landmarks far in the distance. And you do need to drive.
It’s no Project CARS or Enviro-Bear 2000. Three Fourths Home demands one finger to hold down a button then letting you use others to flick the radio on and off, honk your horn, play with the wipers, and control the headlights. If your attention wanders and that finger lifts, time slows and the menus fade until you press again.
That small demand of engagement is unexpectedly strong, bodily dragging you into the game, then being able to distract myself flicking buttons during unpleasant conversations felt right. Three Fourths Home needs these. And it needs the lovely rumbling storm, the radio’s crackly warbling music, and the satisfying click of dashboard buttons. Its conversation side works the same as most interactive fiction (which I rarely play, ironically because I don’t enjoying reading on a screen), but the game uses inputs and outputs of a computer so very pleasingly.
Not wanting to spoil too much, you’re chatting to your mother then the phone ends up passed between other members of your family, sparking feelings of responsibility, regret, life, hopes, and worry, worry, worry. Which says as much about me as it does the game. I enjoyed how I felt bad. Not that this is a Wot I Think. I don’t Write Wot I Thinks. I do news. This is a news post, okay?
Three Fourths Home is the work of two brothers, Zach Sanford under the name [bracket]games and his brother Jon providing the music as Neutrino Effect.
Here’s the opening cutscene, before Kelly hits the road (and all that driving and chatting stuff):