Review: Telling Lies will have you digging deeper into personal lives of people

Telling Lies

Here I am, inside a room, with a laptop filled with secretly recorded video conversations, “courtesy” of the NSA. These videos follow four people and their intimate lives. Each only shows one side of the conversation, and their words are all catalogued to make searching a breeze. If their conversations contained that word, I would be able to find videos containing them. For example, typing “coffee” would pull up references to coffee in these conversations. The same goes for words like “food” and even “sex”. One video is innocent as you see a father playing with his child. Another would be sexual in nature where a woman is dressed in lingerie. If it feels like you’re intruding on their personal lives, don’t worry. It’s just the latest interactive narrative game, Telling Lies, from Annapurna Interactive and Sam Barlow, the writer and director of Her Story.

Telling Lies focuses on video conversations of four lives, and they are played by Logan Marshall-Green (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse), Kerry Bishé (Halt and Catch Fire), and Angela Sarafyan (Westworld). As the name implies, the game is about the lies we tell, and how they shape our lives. Like Barlow’s previous game, Her Story, the player is once again the investigator searching in a video database from a computer. In Telling Lies, you will listen to conversations and look out for keywords. These keywords will lead to more videos, and the more you watch, the more you’ll get an understanding of their lives.

Before starting on your journey, there’s a desktop with notes and documents that will help you navigate the database. There’s even a game of Solitaire, and I’ve spent a lot of time playing that game as a distraction.

As you watch the videos in the database, you’ll discover new keywords that you may be able to use. If one person mentions a person, you can search for that name. Only a maximum of 5 videos will be displayed for a keyword. And once you click on the video, it will start at the keyword. You can fast-forward and rewind, and you can pause a video and click on a keyword on the subtitles to do a quick search. The videos in the database span two years, and watching them initially tells half the story. The more you dig through the videos, the more layers you’ll peel off, discovering their secrets. You’ll soon learn that these four individuals are somehow connected.

The actors are all very compelling, and a part of me felt bad that I’m spying on them in a fictional game. You’ll experience all types of activities with these characters as they celebrate special events, spend time with family, have intimate conversations, and more.

There are 6 hours of footage, and during my 7+ hours of playing the game, I was only able to uncover 75% of the footage. The game doesn’t really hold your hands when you’re trying to search for more videos. The game does have an ending, but you can continue afterward to search for more videos.

Final Reaction

Curiosity is a powerful thing, and our current technology has allowed us to see what other people are up to. With Telling Lies, there’s a mystery surrounding these characters, and the team has done a wonderful job of making you crave for more. There’s a strong desire to dig deeper, and that creates a very engaging way to experience a lengthy, interactive story. Barlow has crafted a riveting way to tell stories, and you’ll be hooked in no time as you hone your investigative skills. Telling Lies is part of a new breed of interactive storytelling, and I hope we get more like them.

Score: 5/5 Atoms

Telling Lies is now available on PC, Mac and iOS devices.

A copy was provided by Annapurna Interactive for review purposes.

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John 'Spartan' Nguyen
John 'Spartan' Nguyen 10164 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, head honcho.