Developer: Dan Trimble
Release Date: June 30, 2021
I’ve always been fascinated by stories told out of order. That’s what drew me to Her Story back in 2016, and why I was interested in playing The List. The problem is, past the most basic of basics, it’s hard to talk about a game of this type without potentially spoiling the hell out of it.
In case you’re not familiar with this type of game, here are those basic basics. You’re tasked with putting together the pieces of a series of interrogations by searching for keywords. The List gives you access to some basic documentation to get you going, but before long, you’ll be frantically typing in every word that gets said in the last clip you managed to unlock, hoping upon hope that it’ll lead you to the next tiny scrap of story. I’ll admit, that doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, but there’s something very satisfying about putting the pieces together from a series of short sections of video.
Here’s what you know at the outset. A young man named Jordan Grady kills his mysterious assailant in self defense. Nothing is known about the gunman, and the only physical evidence is an unregistered gun, a strange coin, and a list of name. Jordan’s name was on the list, and was the only one not already crossed off. The West County Police Department interviews him over several days, and shortly after he is murdered. The case goes unsolved, and now, several years after the fact, you’re tasked with poring through the damaged segments of those interviews to see if you can figure out what really happened.
There are a whopping 275 video clips you can potentially unlock, but it isn’t necessary to find every single one to end the game – in fact, there is one key clip that once you discover it will trigger the end game state. Of course, you also have the side quest of figuring out just how to get into that password protected email account for an essential bit of information. Solving the mystery will require a bit of American-centric knowledge, and there were several reviewers who complained about this, but it wasn’t a stumbling block for me personally (and I say this after tabbing out to Google far more obscure information that led me exactly nowhere).
It took me about two hours to unlock the ending, and after the credits roll, you can go back into the game and watch any clips you might have missed. There were a few that made me realize that I passed over some really obvious keywords, and a few more that made me wonder how anyone would ever have found them. Overall, the game felt fair to me, even if I found myself a little frustrated from time to time.
SteamDB estimates that The List has sold between 1,300 and 3,600 copies on Steam. With the recently popularity of FMV video games and interactive mysteries, I’m surprised it hasn’t seen more success, because I felt like it was pretty well put together. It is ranked 3286 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.