by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
You drive and you talk. You drive past stalks of Nebraska corn, with the occasional building or tree interrupting the seemingly infinite crops. You talk with your mother, your father and your younger brother, each of whom wants to know what happened to the good times the family once had before you left. No matter what you say, the ending will always remain a constant. What changes however, is your relationship with your family. Sometimes you canít change the inevitable.
Three Fourths Home is a visual novel for all intents and purposes. You play as Kelly, a young 20-something woman who moves back home to Nebraska after failing to start an independent life for herself in Minnesota. One day, she gets into her car and starts driving away from her parents house for no other reason than to drive. Eventually, her mom will call, wondering where she is. The rest of the game is spent talking with each of your family members as you pierce together and create the circumstances that led to the current state of the family. To do that, there are several hundred branching dialogue options that allow you to provide your own backstory and personality to Kelly and her family.
I never picked the options in Three Fourths Home based on what I thought - Kelly - would say though. She became my avatar, and I began to answer the questions and statements from Kellyís family as if they were my own. Curiosity and interest at the gameís premise grew to frustration as I deflected questions from her mother who wondered exactly what changed when Kelly went to Minnesota. I was sympathetic to her father, who cared so much about the little activities he had around the house that I couldnít help but feel happiness for him when he opened up to Kelly herself.
For me, this game became deeply personal very quickly. And that made me uncomfortable, for I didnít expect a game like this to be as emotional as it became. Deep introspection is not something a game normally causes me to experience.
This is furthered by Three Fourths Home's stellar art and sound design, which evoke a near constant sense of dread as the sky gets blacker and a steady hum in the background seems to grow louder and louder as the game progresses. The simple black and white aesthetic provides a sharp contrast that is pleasant and worrisome to gaze at, while the absence of music until thevery end feels like an accurate interpretation of what a long lonely drive feels like. The weather gets worse and worse as time passes, eventually culminating in a deluge that forces you to turn on the carís wipers if you want to see anything outside your window.
I played the extended edition, which comes with an epilogue set before the events of the main game. It provides further context to Kellyís life and that of her family, and is a nice conclusion to the long drive of the main game. Alongside this are several pleasant extras that can be found that also highlight the characters in a new and insightful way.
If it feels as though I have spared details in describing what exactly the narrative and epilogues are about, it is because I want to keep this review as spoiler free as possible before others dive into it. To describe the situations and conversations that I partook in would ruin the experience for others, even if my own playthrough was unique. The narrative is that powerful.
Despite that, I still feel as though the game could have been presented in a better manner. While the black and white aesthetic works well emotionally, the manner in which choices are selected and played out is a bit uninspired, which makes me feel as though it could have become something greater if it had expanded beyond the visual novel framework. And a fair warning to people who dislike games that are more than dialogue choices: you will likely not enjoy this game.
Three Fourths Home is not for everyone. But it is an experience that, as short as it may be, is worthwhile to play. Through the options it presents you and itís wonderful aesthetic, Three Fourths Home is a game that I would recommend to anyone who wants to try something new.
Powerful choices, great aesthetic, insightful extras
Uninspired visual novel framework