The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Robert Frost’s poignant words about the road less traveled were all my racing mind could hold on to in the wake of Three Fourths Home. Few and far between are there games that have the ability to flip the traditional video game experience and cause more self reflection than disembodied control; Three Fourths Home retains this ability and combines it with a refreshingly unique take on the “Visual Novel” genre in order to create one of the more moving experiences I have had in not only my gaming life, but in my life as a whole. To some that might sound hyperbolic, but Three Fourths Home rang my metaphorical bell with a tone so deeply resonant that I can’t help but attempt to convey the range of emotion that has taken me over.
To spoil this game would be like crushing a flower; It’s beautiful, and I can tell you about it, but in the end, any amount of description would fall short of the inherently ineffable beauty that the flower holds. Instead, this review will be focusing on how the game caused me to feel. The 30 second elevator pitch of this game is as such: It’s a visual novel where you can make dialogue choices. There is not much else to the gameplay, save for the ability to turn on and off a radio. I don’t even want to tell you the premise of the plot of this game; I believe that knowing it would in and of itself would take away from the experience. I encourage each and everyone reading this review to not look up any other review and simply go buy and play it right now. It is $4.99 on Steam and PSN, though as I write this, it is on sale for $1.24 on PSN. Three Fourths Home clocks in at just about an hour, while the epilogue is about 30 minutes. That, friends, is a textbook low-risk, high-reward investment.
One of the highest praises I can give to Three Fourths Home is its ability to make me nostalgic for a place that I have never existed in. I have never been to the Midwest, and yet I felt a yearning to experience what life is like there. The art style is beautifully minimalist; If you have read any of my other articles, than you might have realized that I appreciate minimalism in any kind of art. I would rather the artist shave off the fat of his/her art and present only what he truly feels is necessary. One of my favorite moments in Citizen Kane is when Kane decides to tear up his wife’s room; the music is dead silent. It’s harrowing, and it plants the film firmly into reality. Similarly, Three Fourths Home’s scant use of setting allows for the mind to fill in the gaps. The game simultaneously tells its story while also inspiring the mind to be engaged; This is why I believe I latched on to the story so well.
Inspiration is the ultimate consequence of playing Three Fourths Home, at least for me. Without spoiling it, the game has a central theme based around family. This is where my self-reflection hit me like a bus. Immediately after finishing this game, I called my parents and told them I loved them. They are currently at a wedding thousands of miles away, and yet I felt so compelled to do so. Why? Because Three Fourths Home is a slice of life that is so unique and yet so relatable that I couldn’t help but put myself into each of the characters shoes. I haven’t gone through exactly what they have gone through, but I have experienced similar plights. I believe that everybody will have at least some form empathetic connection to this game; Three Fourths Home captures the most basic elements of human life while showing the beauty of it at the same time. Furthermore, I was inspired to write poetry for the first time in years after playing this game. Years. I have played plenty of games in the last few years, and none of them quite inspired me as Three Fourths Home. Am I saying its better than everything I have played in the last few years? Absolutely not. I am saying, however, that this game truly got to me.
Ultimately, play Three Fourths Home. It is a cheap, quick experience that is worth experiencing if you have any desire to be swept up in a compelling narrative. My personal recommendation in experiencing this game is to dust off your Vita, get a nice pair of headphones, sit by the fire, and enjoy. The game is also available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac, but I believe the intimate setting of a handheld suits this game the best. I don’t think this game garnered nearly enough attention at its release, and I want the developers to know that their work has been appreciated. Please, I implore you to give this game a shot.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PS Vita (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac; Publisher: Bracket Gamges; Developer: Bracket Games; Players: 1 ; Released: March 20, 2015 ; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $4.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Three Fourths Home purchased by the reviewer.