Her Story isn’t exactly a game, it’s an interactive narrative. It’s a voyeuristic puzzle, a scramble of information, and there is no real end to it. There is no certainty. There is no perfect solution. Since the narrative flow is really up to the player, big reveals can come pretty soon but there’s always something else that may be one click away. Even when you’ve perused all 271 of Her Story’s video clips, there still seems to be so much more to know.
“This is all the stuff I’ve seen in cop shows and cop novels,” creator Sam Barlow has said of the game. “The detective sits there for 12 hours, and his partner comes in the next day and he’s still asleep in the chair. He’s just been staring at the screen all day. This is about the eureka moment. This is the detective game where you get to sit in the dark for a few hours smoking cigarettes and scanning a computer.”
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD
Very quickly it becomes clear that the woman you’re watching, or at least one of the two women you’re watching, killed Hannah’s husband Simon Smith. That’s not the mystery. The mystery turns out more to be about motive, which is quite a tale.
Chronologically, at the very end of the videos the twin/double known as Eve ominously tells the detective that her sister won’t be coming back. This, along with a lot of other compelling clues, suggests that we may be looking at one woman who is either suffering from a split personality (or alter,) that can happen with Disassociate Identity Disorder, or that Hannah is “acting” out this Eve character. Both options could indicate an attempt to cope with trauma, but DID would indicate a delusional lack of knowledge when she’s disassociating,
Other theories are that Eve possibly killed Hannah in between interviews, or that Hannah has fled leaving the cops to deal with Eve, who was raised in secret without any legal trace of her “existence.”
None of the theories are completely satisfying, but I’m currently leaning toward the idea that the two women are actually just one woman. Hannah may have had a twin who died, and to cope with loneliness and isolation, she “invented” her sister. The preoccupation with Rapunzel, doubles, mirrors, fairy tales, and palindromes are all indicative of an obsessive and highly creative mind. The girls don’t end up being complete reflections of each other, though; Eve has license to behave in a much more liberated way than her repressed sister Hannah.
It’s a bit strange that Eve always refers to Hannah as her sister, but in the June 30 interview Hannah refers to Eve as a “friend,” not a sister. She also recounts a story that suggests they are the same person. Once on Hannah’s birthday, (she doesn’t mention that it’s also Eve’s birthday,) they ran away hoping to tag along with Bob Dylan’s tour bus. The cab driver gets suspicious because of their age, and drops them both off at the police station. Then, Hannah says “she” returned home, omitting the use of “we,” she’d used throughout the story. This change of pronouns is odd because Eve was supposedly living with Hannah at the time and had no living guardian. Since they were both in police custody, it would be impossible for Eve to set out by herself. Hannah explains her parents didn’t punish her because she blamed the whole thing on Eve, which is rather strange, too.
Both women speak of making tireless daily diary entries. Hannah says that it helped process her day and keep “everyone on the same page.” In another video, Eve reveals that they would both write in the diary so they could keep up with what they were each doing, a necessary log since they were switching places so often. Hannah was an avid reader at the time, living in her books and dollhouse. The origin story of Eve has such whispers of a fairytale that it’s hard to believe it’s real. A widowed midwife stole Eve and then moved her across the street, and then died from falling down the stairs? Eve met Hannah and then successfully lived in the attic without detection from anyone?
There also seem to be multiple unsuccessful attempts to rid Eve from the picture. Hannah relates that she once tried to kill Eve at the beach. She held her underwater after a fight, but says they immediately made up. She calls their relationship a love/hate one, and reveals that she was jealous of Eve because she was more popular with boys. When Hannah meets her husband Simon, her mirror world with Eve gets broken. Eve no longer has a large place in Hannah’s life because she wants Simon all to himself.
I’m not an expert on how DID, altered states, or personality splits actually occur in real life, so I have no idea how accurate this behavior would be in a true life situation. I’m not completely sold on DID, but I am pretty sold that they are just one person. Because I now have this pet theory, every video I watch or rematch seems to support it in a way. Confirmation bias stalks at my heels.
The biggest physical issues with the one person theory is the tattoo and the bruise. The tattoo could be a temporary tattoo that is put on to be “Eve.” Possibly the tattoo may be covered up with sleeves and makeup when Hannah doesn’t want it to be seen. At some point Hannah has a bruise on her left cheek, but Eve thinks the bruise is on the opposite cheek (which furthers the mirror theme, if nothing else.) This could still be either a psychotic Hannah who believes in the moment that she’s Eve, or a calculating Hannah trying to fool detectives. She may be truly dissociative, or a very imaginative woman has used some of her childhood fantasies to concoct a story to try to get away with murder. At the very least, she maybe be hoping to convince everyone that she deserves an insanity plea.
What do you think? All I know for sure is that I’m hungry for more interactive narratives like this.