If You Own a Console and Slept on Telling Lies, it’s Time to Wake Up

The follow-up to Her Story is coming to consoles next week.

Telling Lies, the FMV, found footage, mystery, difficult to quantify with a genre game from Sam Barlow, the director and developer behind 2015’s Her Story, is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch next week on April 28.

The game originally launched last year on PC and iOS last August, to glowing praise, including from yours truly. It was one of my favorites from last year, and it was a surprise to me just how few people in my own circles latched onto it. So I’m here to make my case for what was, to me, one of the best games of 2019.

Telling Lies has you searching through hours of webcam footage of conversations between four people: David Smith, played by Upgrade star Logan Marshall-Green, Ava, portrayed by Love, Simon and X-Men actress Alexandra Shipp, David’s wife Emma played by Kerry Bishé, known for her work in the television series Argo, and Maxine, played by Westworld star Angela Sarafyan. All you really have to work with is a search bar, which you can use to search for keywords in dialogue to find different videos, all to give you a greater understanding of these people, how they’re connected, and just what it is you’re doing searching through these webcam videos in the first place. However, since you’re only seeing one side of a conversation at any given time, you have to use context clues to suss out what the other person is probably saying, then search for the other video as well to get the full context.

The kicker is, you’re on a time limit. It’s never said to you outright, but the passage of time is being signaled to you through small events, whether that be your cat walking over your keyboard or your spouse asking when you’re coming to bed. So whether you realize it or not, you’re on a time crunch. But since the game doesn’t really give you any sort of direction, it’s on you, the player, to decide what’s important and what’s worth using your precious time to search for.

The story I tell people when I try to get them to play Telling Lies is that, in all the time the game gave me, I was looking for one specific video in particular. I won’t say what it was, because I think the beauty of Telling Lies is in how singular of an experience it is, but I spent every moment looking for a conclusion to one particular arc. Luckily, I did manage to find it, but it was also the last video I found before the game took control out of my hands. I ultimately didn’t see large swaths of what Telling Lies had to show me, but I felt content with what I had seen and what I prioritized, so I still haven’t gone back to the game since I played it back in August. Honestly, I think I’m probably good not returning to it, even though it’s coming to other systems, but I’m hopeful that more people (including you) will give it a chance, because I really like hearing what stories stuck out to people, and which ones they hone in on in the limited time Telling Lies gives them.

In other news:

Ultimately, I can only tell you stories of how Telling Lies played out for me, but unless I tell you specifically to look for certain things, you won’t experience it the same way I did. It is a uniquely personal experience, because those who go in with zero guidance have to fumble their way to the dark until they find the flickers of light to walk toward. I hope if you play it when it comes to consoles next week, you will also come away with your own stories, too.

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Kenneth Shepard

Kenneth is a Staff Writer at Fanbyte. He still periodically cries about the Mass Effect trilogy years after it concluded.

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