Let's just start off by saying the obvious: Three Fourths Home is not for everyone, although this gamer assumes it wasn't meant to be. While teetering on that fine-line between visual novel and game, all the while not really achieving either, it is clear why this game has generated a lot of the negative reviews it has. That being said, if you enjoy a quick two hour(ish) story that leaves you with a bit to reflect on afterwards, you might enjoy this one.
More importantly, games like Three Fourths need to be made. Like any medium, gaming requires experimentation and new directions to be explored. Art-house cinema, while often mocked in popular culture, has its merits for the film medium; many experimental musicians have come and gone through time; some writing out there leaves people scratching their heads. Yet with all of this, the medium is explored a bit more, limits are pushed or outright broken, and the medium overall benefits.
If we wish for gaming to reach that echelon of being both entertainment and art, this sort of experimentation is necessary. That is where games like Three Fourths come in. While it might not be a project that could be viewed as wildly out of left-field, it does abandoned much of what we consider "pillars of a game" for the sake of delivering a short-but-to-the-point story with minimalist visual style.
The game largely consists of the player holding down the RT button while choosing between a limited set of dialogue options as the main character drives home while talking on the phone with her family. Those looking for an engaging "gaming" experience will find themselves bored and most likely frustrated early in by the simple mechanics. I for one found the requirement of holding down the RT button constantly to progress through the story rather pointless and irritating, but this is an issue that can no doubt be addressed in similar projects down the road for Bracket Games. Either way, the experience of this game is not to be found in nuances of gaming mechanics and play, but rather in the conversation the character has with her family.
That being said, dialogue choices are rather limited, average usually two options but sometimes reaching three while other times leaving the player forced to use the only one provided. Dialogue choices have little consequences in the main story outside of changing certain reactions of the characters on the other end of the line, however the dialogue choices take a little more of a commanding role in the epilogue. Still, gamers who are paying attention will find that there are choices that lead to more in-depth dialogue that reveals more of the plot as compared to others.
The purpose of this game is to really tell the story of this conversation against the backdrop of an approaching storm. The game makes no effort to complicate this matter through complicated game-play or a more drawn out story- a fact that is both a blessing and a curse. While it allows for a story that can be presented without the type of distractions and side-tracking that "too complicated for their own good" games often get side-lined by, it means that a great many of gamers will be turned off relatively quickly to this game.
However, if you are willing and able to sacrifice entertaining gameplay for an interesting, introspective story, then this is for you. Three Fourths delivers on a very simple premise, so simple that the ending can be predicted by even a casual observer very early on, but like many good stories, the merit is not in the destination but the journey. The epilogue that is included in the extended edition wraps a nice bow on the whole thing and may be the most nuanced portion of the game, leaving this player questioning how this game was ever delivered without it.
The minimalist art style, while not necessarily visually striking, provides a setting that doesn't detract from the most important aspect of the game: the dialogue. The gray-scale tones add to the increasing somber the player may feel as the game progress, while interestingly adding to the idea of "grays, not blacks and whites" theme that the game reflects upon. The soundtrack is a simple yet beautifully renditioned electronic score that adds to the mood of the game and flows together nicely. After completion of the main story, some extras will be unlocked such as short stories and photos that add to atmosphere of the game and give more insight to the characters.
Overall, this game is for a niche audience, and more than anything is an experiment on different models for presenting stories through the gaming medium. Even for those who enjoy this style of game, there are some flaws that do detract from the game's overall presentation, however these are easily dismissed given the game's price of $4.99 on the Xbox Store at the time of this writing. For the rest of gamers out there, this game provides a quick and easy 1k with simple achievements (although there have been issues reported with certain achievements unlocking over the past few months, buyer beware).
Overall, this game warranted 3 stars, rated for those who enjoy this type of game. For most this may be a 1 star game, but my rating was given based on how I perceived it as a fan of the genre.