TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘How We Know We’re Alive’

I’d say in general I’m more about action and arcade style games and not too much into thought-provoking narrative experiences, but every once in a while one of those critically acclaimed story games will work its way in front of my eyeballs and hit me in a way that no other game can. No other form of media can, really. How We Know We’re Alive from Motvind Studios is one of those games that knocked me for a loop. It launched on PC a couple of years ago and you can still play that version for a pay-what-you-want price, even free. Now it is making its way to additional platforms including mobile and Steam as a paid game.

In the story you play as Sara who returns to her tiny Swedish hometown of Härunga to pay respects to her estranged best friend Maria, who died the year prior. As can be common with tiny towns Härunga is very set in its ways and very… let’s say not exactly progressive. As teenagers Sara and Maria dreamed about getting out of this small town and its closed mind, and planned to go to Stockholm and live the big city lifestyle. Except before they could do that Maria got pregnant and, well, everything changed. Sara moved to the big city and Maria stayed behind to raise a family.

Exactly a year prior to your return Maria dies in a tragic car accident, but you can’t shake the feeling that something about the accident just isn’t right. You spend your time in Härunga, a place you haven’t visited in more than 10 years, talking to old acquaintances and trying to find out more about Maria’s life after you left and what really led to her tragic death. You will meet a number of interesting characters on your journey to unravel this mystery and the story itself had me hooked from within the first few minutes.

How We Know We’re Alive says right up front that it’s only around an hour long, and gameplay-wise it plays like an extremely basic point-and-click adventure. Actually, that’s probably giving it too much credit. This is really a story with some very light interaction, and as someone who doesn’t normally like that sort of thing I’m surprised by how much I couldn’t put this one down. The writing is excellent and it doesn’t hurt that the visuals and soundtrack are great too. This is a story that will hit you hard though, so make sure you’re in the right headspace to experience something like that first. But if impactful interactive stories are up your alley, How We Know We’re Alive is one that will stick with you long after it’s over.

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