Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition
Developed By: Bracket Games
Published By: Digerati
Category: Adventure, Visual Novel
Release Date: 5.10.18
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a parent in possession of a grown child must be in want of a phone call every once in a while because it wouldn’t kill you to call, y’know! Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition for Nintendo Switch is a visual novel about not calling home enough.
OK, that opening paragraph over-simplified things a little. It’s not so much about a lack of calling home, it’s about a lack of communication in general. The player assumes the role of a young woman named Kelly who is on her way home when her mother calls. The call sparks a long conversation that reveals the family’s dirty laundry and a long history of tragedy and drama. Along the way, the phone gets passed between Kelly’s mother, father, and brother. The conversation shifts around the various rifts that have formed between family members over the years and trying to figure out how things went so wrong. In the Extended Edition, there is also an epilogue that serves as both prequel and sequel to the events of the main story, but I won’t spoil it. I’ll just say, you wait for a bus while on the phone with your mom.
The story is mostly made of mundane, slice-of-life style conflicts. It starts with a variation of the most mundane mother-child conversation there is, “Why don’t you call more often?” It then spirals into some more serious stuff, which will draw players in with well-written and fully developed characters. The dialogue is simple but paints a deep and fully realized picture of each individual character’s regrets and personality. So despite the mostly mundane nature of the story, I found myself drawn in almost from the first second.
Three Fourths Home is a visual novel, so that’s already a sign that there really isn’t much game to play. The gameplay consists mostly of choosing responses to dialogue options, which can change the outcome of the story. During the main story, the player also has to hold down a button to drive during the whole game, and if you ever lay off the gas the conversation stops. It actually got kind of uncomfortable to hold down a button that long. You can also choose to turn your radio on or off, which is kind of neat, but that is the end of the gameplay. If you’re playing this game, you’re doing it for the story.
Three Fourths Home has an extremely minimalist, black and white aesthetic that is very successful at capturing the somber tone of the story. The objects are solid shapes, lacking in any kind of intricate detail, and mostly grey on a white background. The game’s visuals are actually kind of boring, and if I’m being brutally honest, the game would probably have worked just as well if it were text only. That was really the only part of the screen I ever paid any attention to after the first few minutes. I mean, sure, the background changes the deeper you get into the story, and you even point out landmarks as you pass them on the road, but the graphics felt like they were added as an afterthought when the developers remembered this was a video game.
The sound could be equally minimalist, depending on how you chose to play. There is no voice acting, but the audio does capture the feeling of driving home in bad weather. The sounds of the car’s engine, the different weather you drive through, and, assuming you turn on the radio, some random music are all you hear as Kelly drives home. However, the sound does a much better job of creating an immersive experience for the game than the graphics. For me, the game almost played out like a text-based radio drama, which I found to be a fairly novel experience.
Three Fourths Home has no touch or motion controls, so it plays the same docked or undocked. I preferred to play it undocked, as the graphics of the game did nothing for me, and the text on a white background was a bit too bland on a TV. It was still sort of bland on the Switch’s screen, but there was a whole lot less white space so I guess that’s a plus? Again, this game lives in the writing, so the way you play doesn’t make much difference.
TL;DR: Great writing, immersive audio, blah graphics. Play it because you love well-done, character-driven stories.