Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition Review

Talking up a storm.

I can barely hear my car's radio over the storm. It's just a low buzz and a series of rhythmic thumps. I'm alone on the highway, flanked by rows of Nebraskan corn, driving in the shadow of the wind turbines in the distance, steadily spinning along in the rain. Dozens of wind turbines… or hundreds of them. Thousands maybe? They seem to stretch forever--or for at least as long as this awkward conversation with my father does.

Three Fourths Home is a short piece of interactive fiction that captures the feeling of late-night driving and millennial uncertainty. You play as Kelly Meyers, a 20-something who recently moved back in with her folks and who can't see a path forward for her or her troubled family. As the player, you're more concerned with the family's past: Across a main story, an epilogue, and a collection of interesting bonus content, you piece together (and even decide) who these people are and what happened to them.

No Caption Provided

Like all stressful conversations, there's no walking away from this one. You have to push through it.

In the game's main story, you spend about an hour driving through an intense storm while talking with your family members on the phone. On a screen of stark (and occasionally overwhelming) black, white, and gray, you pass through rural Nebraska while choosing dialogue options and taking in the scenery. You hold down the D key to drive forward while selecting dialogue with the up and down arrows. With a press of the F key, the camera zooms in to the silhouette of your car, and your speed shakes the screen. You can mess with your tape deck or flick your headlights on and off, but these mostly serve to occupy your hands (and take up your nervous energy). If it all sounds simple, it's because it is. But it's also effective.

Three Fourths Home again proves that interactive fiction can feel urgent, and it's a reminder that game makers working in the genre have more tools at their disposal than just their words. The droning ambient sounds and the high-contrast zine aesthetic create a tense atmosphere, and the game's control scheme supports this. In order to progress through conversations you need to continue to drive forward. The second you let go of that D key, everything decelerates into slow motion--the rain, the windmills, the bird that flies overhead--and your dialogue options vanish. Like all stressful conversations, there's no walking away from this one. You have to push through it, and you must do so with care: It's all too easy to choose the default response during conversation when you mean only to forward a conversation, due to the game's measured reveal of possible replies.

No Caption Provided

The droning ambient sounds and the high-contrast zine aesthetic create a tense atmosphere.

Of course, writer Zach Sanford's words contribute to the tension, too. Though much of the dialogue is humorous, the conversations you have with Kelly's mother, father, and brother always work their way back around to some recent trauma--yours or theirs. Games have a history of mishandling the traumatic, but Sanford manages to explore these ideas with restraint and insight. His natural writing sets Three Fourths Home apart from many other games which render personal suffering cartoonish. The Meyers, like real people, are careful but flawed. They know that there are topics you can only really talk about when you can look someone in the eye. But they can't quite manage their desires to talk about the tough stuff. So they hint at their pasts, talk around their personal tragedies, and occasionally brush close to their painful memories.

The game's epilogue subverts this structure. Still playing as Kelly, you are taken back into her memory of a time months before the main game's story. But unlike a linear flashback, this is memory reflects the doubt and regret that often comes with hindsight. You can choose to make the same dialogue choices that Kelly made all those months ago, or you can linger on the "what ifs." What if she had told her mother about her problems? What if she'd worked harder in school? What if she'd taken a different bus that day? You're not actually seeing alternate outcomes--you're just obsessing over them the way we all do.

No Caption Provided

The conversations you have with Kelly's mother, father, and brother always work their way back around to some recent trauma--yours or theirs.

The extras included in Three Fourths Home build on this. On top of being able to listen to the game's soundtrack, you're able to flip through one of Kelly's college photography projects and read a collection of her brother's short stories. The photos are flawed and the fiction flirts with cliché, but both are better for it. Central to Three Fourths Home is the notion that creative work helps us work through our trauma, and being able to see the art these characters made sells that. Since so much of Three Fourths Home is about understanding who these people are, this stuff isn't superficial bonus content. It's a true part of the experience.

In total, that whole experience only took about two hours of my day. But it left me winded. There is a real velocity to Three Fourths Home. It sneaks up on you, quietly at first, before suddenly becoming overwhelming. Its closest analogs aren't other games, but works like John Darnielle's novel Wolf in White Van or the haunting music of lo-fi artist Mount Eerie--art that rumbles and groans and then springs into action.

More than anything, though, Three Fourths Home reminded me of one of those nights where you look down to see that you're going ten… twenty… thirty miles over the speed limit. But you just can't bring yourself to lift your foot off the gas pedal. You've got somewhere to be.

The Good
Striking visual style contributes to tense atmosphere
Sharp writing creates complex, nuanced characters
Extra content offers further characterization
Encourages replaying through different dialogue options
The Bad
Controls sometimes lead to choosing a dialogue option by mistake
High-contrast art can strain eyes after long play session
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Austin Walker has spent hundreds of hours driving around aimlessly at night. He also spent last year playing interactive fiction games like 80 Days, Elegy for a Dead World, and Skulljhabit.
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ExK

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Strictly for diehard fans of humdrum family drama. For fans of interactive storytelling looking for something intense and hardcore, you can't go wrong with Hyper Rift on Android and iOS. It's literally 'Lost' taking place in space on a spaceship.

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perphektxero

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Was very interested until I saw that you're driving through Nebraska, the most boring state to drive through.

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illmatic87

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The comments section to this place seems to be getting worse and worse. Sure, it's always bad when it comes to the usual suspects. But I wouldnt have expected this game to have a comments section this bad

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Gelugon_baat

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>

Is it really important to you to know the opinion of whichever bloke that GameSpot would take as the reviewer for that game? :\

Chances are, you are probably already playing that game yourself. If you are, really, why wait for GameSpot's review?

I am guessing that you want confirmation of your own opinions about the game.

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invizo

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@Gelugon_baat: << LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> sorry to burst your bubble but no one here was waiting for this review, don't delude yourself, it doesn't even deserve a review.

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RogerioFM

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@invizo@Gelugon_baat: << LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I find it funny how Gelugon likes to assume everything, and just assumes everything wrong.

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canuckbiker

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The most presumptuous person I've ever seen.

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Gelugon_baat

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@invizo:

I wasn't referring to this game. :\

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RogerioFM

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@Gelugon_baat: << LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Oh no you guesses wrong on the need validation for me opinon part, I just want the game to get more recognition and more people to know it. I already finished the game, for me, it's awesome.

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Gelugon_baat

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@RogerioFM:

So you just want more cheerleading for the game then. :\

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RogerioFM

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@Gelugon_baat@RogerioFM: Yes, it's good for the developers. The more people hear about it, the more likely it is for them to have better sales.

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Baelath

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Where's the Pillar of Eternity review


Why isn't Gamespot getting their priorities straight

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RogerioFM

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humm, I'll pass, doesn't look that interesting to me, I guess I played too many games themed around tragedies, traumas, self discovery and what not.


Still waiting for the Pillars of Eternity review though.

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Ov3r_Kill_Br0ny

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In before, "This is not a real game.", comments. Oh, too late. Go back to playing Call of Duty.

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Talavaj

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@ov3r_kill_br0ny: It is not a game, it is a poor attempt of a wannabe writer to sell their work off to gamers because nobody would publish it in its proper places.

But if you want to support that kind of behavior, then go ahead.

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Ov3r_Kill_Br0ny

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It is a game because you control the car and make the choices that progress the story. And yes, I will support this game for writing material that no AAA developer would ever risk writing.

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Gelugon_baat

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Why did you make an account here, really?

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canuckbiker

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Looks interesting. I like a well told interactive story, but I like a lot of games that stretch across the gaming genres.

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GamerOuTLaWzz

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lol please...

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Salt_AU

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Another cutting edge PC exclusive!


*snicker*


Ima continue to play Bloodborne, maybe you master race guys should also play it. Oh wait... you can't... lol.

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MooncalfReviews

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@Salt_AU: Pillars of Eternity > Bloodborne.

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dani_i89

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@Salt_AU: You're right about PC being overhyped.....though it's still great, and not having Bloodborne on it isn't a loss at all. Ori and the Blind Forest for me was a much more compelling game than Souls was.

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59Hertz

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@Salt_AU: Ah yes, you see, as a member of the Master Race I also have all the little consoles in boxes stuffed in dark desolate cubby's to do as I please with when something finally good comes around. Something that isn't a multiplat or the 7'th entry in a long running series that like many, end up on our glorious PC's sooner or later.
I might even use a Xbox One controller today on the PC but shhh, don't tell anyone. Our little secret tehehe

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Salt_AU

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@59Hertz@Salt_AU: The glorious platform that is never pushed to its limits. No matter how much money you waste spending on it, it will never be cutting edge because devs market for the majority my friend, and the majority are using their parents 2003 Dell systems. Grats I guess.

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59Hertz

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@Salt_AU: Oh, so basically you have no idea what you're talking about. The console is cool, but not cool enough to have to lie to yourself about it.

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canuckbiker

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@Salt_AU: I can play bloodborne on my ps4, I can also play dark souls 1&2 in 1440p 60fps on my PC. Good luck trying to do that with the pathetic hardware in todays consoles. Fuking insecure l0sers all over this site, these days.

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Salt_AU

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@canuckbiker@Salt_AU: Fzzzzzzzzz... reel, reel, landed a big one here boys!


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canuckbiker

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You're pathetic. First you argue with others about how great your console is, then you pretend you're tr0lling when someone calls you out for the brand b!tch that you are.

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zeca04

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@Salt_AU: How does it feel to finally have a good exclusive after 2 years and need to go "yadda yadda yadda" like any kid with a new toy everywhere?

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dani_i89

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@zeca04@Salt_AU: I game on PC as well, and dislike Souls/BBorne, but I struggle to understand why people hype up the PC so much....it has endless capabilities, but it's never truly flexed other than the usual tech demo, such as Battlefield or Crysis.

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zeca04

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@dani_i89@zeca04@Salt_AU: Tru. Still it offers way more variety than consoles, which ended on making tech demos as well. Besides, what makes pc a win for me is backwards compatibility and the prices of the games (waaaaaay cheaper than ps4, xone in my country) plus some different games.

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lambazelda

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@zeca04@Salt_AU: Bloodborne is the same thing like other soul games. a reskin with tweaks to mechanics. here it encourage you to be more offensive with no shield/faster combat and getting health back mechanic. but it is a console exclusive so it automatically gets 10/10 from many sites.


i would give it a 9/10 like Gamespot did but 10/10 scores are funny cause i don't see anything revolutionary about it. Demon Souls on the other hand can be called a 10/10 game.

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invizo

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It's not an exclusive either it's a dark souls2 reskin with worse graphics compared to DS2 on PC

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canuckbiker

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@invizo: No it's not actually. It is a big step forward in the evolution of the series gameplay wise, and will inevitably get a multi-platform sequel. That said the above person is an @$$hole, that needs to be assured his electronic box is the best thing ever, as it's the closest thing he'll have to a girlfriend in the next six years.

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zeca04

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@invizo: Eh, if it is ds 2 reskin then it's crap. If only it had the quality of DeS and ds1...

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Prats93

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@zeca04@invizo: How does it feel to miss out on the best Souls game? Lol. Just admit that consoles get the best exclusives.

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dani3po

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@prats93@zeca04@invizo: Let´s see, this year PS4 has Bloodborne, Until Dawn (QTE teenage horror simulator) and... anything else?

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zeca04

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@prats93@zeca04@invizo: You get the order 1886, knack, driveclub, that bomberman game wannabe, remasters and dare to come to say that i have to admit that consoles get the best exclusives just because of one game? That is pretty laughable, mate. If it was at least Nintendo with Monster hunter 4, mario 3d world, bayonetta 2, wonderful 101, i'd be sad, because ps4 has pretty crappy exclusives unlike nintendo. Btw, I'm living pretty well without playing it, thanks for asking it. Busy playing Elite dangerous, Ori, risk of rain, pillars of eternity, darkest dungeon, divinity 2, ethan carters, talos principle and many others, not to mention the superior multiplat, freedom to mod, free online service. Did i mention i dont have to buy the same game twice becuase i have backwards compatibility.? Plus, i even use it to work! Just admit pc offers much, much more than ps4 and it's only good game. When i have the chance, be sure i'll play it. In the meantime. enjoy your ONLY good game, mate.

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Devantex

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@invizo: By that logic Dark Souls 2 is a reskin of Dark Souls and Dark Souls is a reskin of Demon Souls.

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Three Fourths Home More Info

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  • First Released Aug 3, 2014
    released
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • + 5 more
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    • Xbox One
    In Three Fourths Home, players assume the role of Kelly while she is driving home during this thunderstorm.
    5
    Average Rating6 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Three Fourths Home
    Developed by:
    [bracket]games
    Published by:
    Digerati Distribution, [bracket]games
    Genre(s):
    Text-Based, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Alcohol Reference, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes