Telling lies is unlike any game I’ve ever played before. While I have played FMV games in the past like Erica, The Complex and Late shift, this game sets itself apart the rest. From Sam Barlow, Telling lies is the spiritual successor to ‘Her Story’. Her story in its own right was unique. You had to solve a murder by watching a collection of interviews with the main suspect. What made Her Story unique was its non-linear approach to the gameplay. You could watch the interviews in any order.
Like ‘Her Story’, Telling Lies also takes a non-linear approach to its gameplay. Gone however is the florescent light reflections of the outdated monitor screen. Telling Lies opts for a more modern approach. Your main central hub where you will be spending most of your time is on a MACOS style desktop screen of a computer belonging to a woman named Karen who you are introduced to in an opening scene which blends seamlessly into a desktop display. From here Karen loads up an external drive filled with 169 videos which you can search and watch via a database. Karen inputs the first search term of ‘love’ and here you are introduced to your first 5 videos relating to the term Love. When you click on one of the videos it will take you to the point in that video where the word ‘love’ is said. From here you can watch through the videos and search for more using different search terms. For example, the first video in the ‘love’ search list mentions the phrase ‘snow-white’. I then searched this and it brought up all videos containing the phrase ‘snow-white in them. It’s a clever way to tell a narrative. However, there are some issues to this which I will come to in a bit.
The game centres around 4 main characters. You have lead character of David, an FBI agent who has gone undercover to gain access to an Eco activist group. His wife Emma and daughter Alba who he remains in contact with my request of the bureau. Ava a record store shop worker who he befriends in order to gain access into the activist group. And a cam girl called Maxine. There are also a list of side characters who add to the overarching story, but its these main 4 that you will be following throughout the game.
The main plot follows David as he tries to infiltrate an operation called Green storm and expose the intentions of the environmental group to break the law and commit acts of terrorism. David plants himself into the group through the character of Ava who he forms a romantic relationship with for his cover. However, David starts to question the lies he is telling both to the group and to his loved ones over the truth.
I will not go any further on the story as it is quite possibly the best fictional story I’ve seen played out in a while. And along the way of the 5 hour long combined story there are a lot of twists and turns that make the game even more compelling.
While viewing all these videos a thought kept coming to me, ‘how did they film this?’ and when you look into it, the story of how they made this game is just as interesting as the game itself.
Telling lies stars Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) as David, Kerry Bishé (Penny Dreadful: City of Angels) as Emma, Angela Sarafyan (Westworld) as Maxine and Alexandra Shipp (X-men: Apocalypse) as Ava. That is a very good cast with a good collection of high tier projects under their collective belts, and it really shows. Over the course of the game you are invested in each of these characters lives. Caring about every word they say, every action they perform. You feel like you are living this story with them and it’s down to the phenomenal acting, especially from the games lead Logan Marshall-Green.
Another aspect that lends to the immersion and the investment in these characters lives is by the way the story is filmed. Unlike ‘Her Story’ which was more of a police style interview, ‘Telling lies’ feels more like a sprawling crime drama. This is due to the voyeuristic filming method. Each video feels like you are watching a Skype call, or viewing a purposely filmed Go pro video. I actually found out the story behind the scenes from 3 short but interesting videos about the production of this game. The whole thing was filmed on go pros adding to that homemade feel and sound of the footage. The actors each had to film their own scenes in one continues take, using a concealed earpiece to hear what the other was saying and respond accordingly. Now even though it wasn’t directly said in the behind the scenes videos, it was suggested that the dialogue could have been mostly improvised with but keeping in keywords from the script which act as your search terms for the database. Now if this is true, which I like to believe it is, it kind of makes sense as all the acting and dialogue throughout the entire game feels natural. There’s a moment in the game where David’s telling his daughter a bedtime story about Rumpelstiltskin that feels right of the bat. If I’m wrong and the dialogue is scripted then the acting sells it even more.
Now there isn’t really that much at all bad to say about this game. In all is a narrative masterpiece in storytelling. My only issue is that I would have liked a way to view a video conversation in full instead of viewing each side of the conversation separately. I’m sure there will be a video online where someone has pieced them all together. Yet that being said, part of the fun to this game is piecing the story together on your own. It makes you more invested in the story and all its twists and turns because you are putting time into finding it all out.
Telling lies had me hooked from the start, all the way to the end. It’s investing and immersive story telling had me caring about the characters and kept me wanting to find out more.
So in conclusion Telling lies deserves the score of 10/10 for a being what a game should be. Immersive, fun, compelling and addictive.
Telling lies is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac OS and IOS.
This review was based on a Xbox One playthrough and is available on the Xbox Marketplace for £17.00
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An investigative thriller game with non-linear storytelling, Telling Lies revolves around a cache of secretly recorded video conversations. Starring Logan Marshall-Green, Alexandra Shipp, Kerry Bishé, Angela Sarafyan and directed by Sam Barlow, creator of Her Story and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 17.00
Product In Stock: SoldOut