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The story starts as she drives home from her grandparents’ old farm where she needed to get away to think. On the way back, a rainstorm quickly escalates into a frightening tornado signal. Through her conversation with her mom, dad and her brother, we learn about what happened to her that caused her to return home as well as the relationships and dynamics between her and each member of the family and their struggles while she was away.
Three Fourths Home is a simple game in many ways. In terms of gameplay, we have the interactive storyline options to choose where the conversation goes. We can also toggle the radio on and off for silence or background music or ambience, such as the rain. All of this happens while pressing the right trigger to take Kelly home as her car moves forward through a changing landscape. Visual novels are meant to tell a story and rarely do they take this third person view of the adventure as we watch the car drive through the scene. However, the phone call aspect from the family allows the conversation to flow smoothly while keeping it truly simple like watching a moving picture. Kelly can take multiple paths according to how the player would like to progress. The answers usually vary from dismissive to annoyance to compassionate. All this helps guide Kelly into answering more honest or staying behind a metaphorical wall. Still, this all depends on what the player chooses to portray Kelly as in the story they are experiencing and what or how they feel.
Visually, Three Fourths Home takes on a minimalistic art style which carries only black and white tones. As the car presses forward, the moving pictures fades behind and new scenery appear. These scenes emphasizes on the small town countryside setting which represents Nebraska with corn fields and wind farms spaced with vast emptiness in between. It creates a sense of isolation especially when we, as the players, have no idea how far home actually is. As Kelly drives deeper into the storm, there is also a growing emphasis on the darkness creeping in which increases the level of urgency especially as Kelly’s family, through the conversation, also emits a sense of worry. However, the themes in the conversation also changes to more grim topics in parallel to what is happening outside through subtle changes.
Apart from the main story, Three Fourths Home also has an epilogue portion. There are speculations of the timeline as to when this specific scene starts however it is structured similarly to the main story. Except in this case, Kelly is waiting for a bus and we can control her to keep walking as the background fades in and out to some rather mysterious scenes. This is solely a conversation between her and her mother. What starts off as a casual conversation fills in some of the holes that may have been left unanswered in the previous sequence.
This short story visual novel piece takes about an hour to complete. For what it is, it never feels like it is dragging on. There are moments such as her parents’ situations which seem slightly more textbook however, the best parts are her interaction with her younger brother. One part in particular builds into a rather long sequence. While it doesn’t feel like it drags on and it seems like there should be a deeper purpose behind it, it never quite seems to amount to what the long portion is. The length of the story is suitable for its linear structure but somehow in our pampered world of Telltale Games and other choice-based titles, it is hard to not expect it to have some other way to end and yet, it seems like no matter how we approach the situation, the reactions may differ but the ending will always be the same. In one way, it does feel like Kelly is in a hopeless situation that doesn’t quite have the resolution and in other ways, maybe it is trying to reach a deeper understanding of the importance of communication and distance in human interaction.
Overall, Three Fourths Home may be simple but it packs an minimalistically appealing environment that communicates the story of Kelly and her family through a drawn out conversation. The short story format helps the story to never overstay its welcome by keeping the conversation moving between characters and flowing through topics effectively however, certain parts still feel like it falls short of its potential. Everyone is important and the emphasis on communication and distance takes the front seat along with a few extra messages hidden between the lines.
Game description: Three Fourths Home is an interactive visual novel developed by [bracket] games. It tells the story of Kelly, a college student who has returned home to regain her footing.