The Gallery FMV Video Game Review
We will have no spoilers in our review. We’ll only summarize how the two stories work, and give a brief summary of the first 5 minutes of the game.
The Gallery is a live action FMV video game where you make decisions to determine how the game plays out. If you’re not familiar, FMV stands for “full motion video”, but to summarize it quickly FMV games were popular in the 1990’s as video game “movies” where you make decisions during the game which affect what happens next. It’s similar in gameplay to video games from Telltale Games, Quantic Dream, Supermassive Games, or even visual novels, except the cutscenes in this game are filmed in a live action format.
There are two separate stories to play through in The Gallery. One with a female protagonist taking place in 1981 and one with a male protagonist taking place in 2021. In both stories you play as a museum curator managing a museum. It’s a stressful life in both stories, where you need to use volunteer labor, barely make a profit, and have to deal with a lot of issues such as protestors outside of your museum ruining your business.
The story becomes extremely dramatic, but I will not spoil any of the specific details. Essentially, you need to carefully balance your relationship with a supporting character and the protagonist’s close group of friends and family.
Don’t be confused, however, the two stories don’t actually feed into each other. The two stories have no relation to either other, so you can pick either the 1981 or the 2021 story first to play through and then go to the other story afterwards. The two stories have many parallels to each other and show that even in very different time periods how the same issues in life keeps happening in cycles, such as political issues dividing the country whether it’s 1981 or 2021. They both take place in the same museum, in the United Kingdom, but there are many cultural and technological differences between the two time periods.
I’ve never seen any other video game do this before either, so it was really fascinating to play through each of these two stories and see a very similar plot, but in very different time periods. So when a telephone goes off in 1981, it’s a smartphone going off in 2021. There is clearly a keen attention to technological differences between the two differing time periods, even the police have the appropriate uniforms for each time period. The 1981 plotline focuses on how the curator is receiving a portrait of the Queen, whereas the 2021 plotline focuses on the curator receiving a portrait from an Instagram artist.
The soundtrack is also appropriate for the time period too, where the 1981 storyline had music befitting an old 80’s movie whereas the 2021 story’s soundtrack sounded like modern top 20 music. The themes were always consistent too, such as how artists will always struggle and how the museum is always underfunded, which was a great touch.
If you’re worried that the two stories are the same, don’t be. The stories are very similar with the overarching plotline, but they’re not identical. Some lines of dialogue and scenes are told verbatim, but at the same time many scenes are changed too. The scenes are shot completely differently in the two stories (they can’t re-use footage between the two stories of course because of the different protagonists) so it’s still interesting to watch. Some supporting characters are re-used between the two stories, but they’re not the “same character”. They have the same name and are the same person but they didn’t age, they have different mannerisms and clothes depending on the time period.
Some scenes are exclusive depending on the story as well. The female story has 12 endings, whereas the male story has 6 endings. That’s not to say one is better than the other, they both each have a few dozen choices for you to make throughout the story. My first run through each story took an hour. If you want to go for alternate scenes and endings, you can easily triple your playtime.
The story, without spoiling, is very dramatic at scenes. Some scenes really made me suspend my disbelief, but it’s a very fun game. There are many branches of scenes that change drastically depending on your decisions, so there’s a lot of replayability. The plotline is meant to be an avenue to discuss how artists struggle regardless of the time period.
The decisions are a bit on the harder side, and often you’ll need to make decisions that are counterintuitive to how you’d normally think if you want to get the good ending. On my first run it appears that I got the worst ending, and I think most new players would get that ending as well if they didn’t consult guides. You can skip scenes on a new game plus run though if you want to explore new scenes without waiting through the whole game again.
Admittedly, some scenes do drag on, but it was genuinely fun to learn more about artwork, for both time periods. I learned a lot of theories behind the Mona Lisa from the 1981 plotline that I had no idea existed. The game also gives a list of all the artwork in the game, so I looked up the story behind a lot of classic works, as well as recent artists, and it was interesting.
Overall, it was just a fascinating game to play. I disliked when Bandersnatch had came out on Netflix because that miniseries had poorly implemented decisions and scenes, and I was afraid that this would stifle the creation of English FMV movie games. So it was great to see that more English FMV movie games were still coming out.
I’d definitely recommend you to check out both this game and Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus?, another English FMV game that’s more humor. There’s a lot of great Japanese FMV (English subtitles) games as well for you to check out such as Underdog Detective and The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story. If you like narrative-oriented games where you make decisions to affect the gameplay, this is definitely a title you should check out.
- One of a kind game, where you experience the same plot but in very different time periods with different protagonists.
- Many endings available based off of your choices.
- Sometimes the pacing is bad and the plot drags on.
- Most of the actors are great, but some performances leave more to be desired.
– Brandon Harris
Reviewed on PC