I picked up Gone Home a fair while ago during a little indie game sale, but I never really got around to playing it until fairly recently. To say it surprised me would be an understatement, but first I’ll briefly explain what the game is about.
The game is set in 1995 Oregon. You’re Kaitlin Greenbriar, a 21-year-old girl returning home from overseas and expecting your family to greet you. To your surprise, you come home to an empty house and a cryptic note from your sister Samantha begging you not to try to find out what happened.
Contrary to what that description may lead you to believe, Gone Home is not a horror game. Although some may disagree, I wouldn’t even call it a game so much as an interactive story. The gameplay boils down to exploring the house and finding out what happened while you were gone. The few puzzles present are quite simple to solve, and the gameplay is point and click style where you simply look around your environment and see what there is to see. The graphics are fairly nice, though nothing to write home about. So if not the gameplay, what is the backbone of Gone Home? That would be its story.
To avoid spoiling too much, I’m just going to mention the characters involved in the game.
- Your father, Terry, who is a failed writer and has been reduced to reviewing home electronics to make a living.
- Your mother, Janice, a wildlife conservationist who is slowly growing tired of her husband’s persistence towards writing.
- Your 18 year old sister Samantha, who has trouble fitting in at her new school and only seems to have one friend.
- Yolanda “Lonnie” DeSoto, JROTC-cadet and aforementioned friend.
The story follows the growth and fall of these four characters as they go about their lives, with you being a simple witness to the passing of time around them. Emails, diary pages, mix-tapes, phone logs and other things will be your guide through what happened to leave your house so empty. However, for a game with the story as its main appeal, I found the ending to be surprisingly disappointing. There were many twists along the progression of the plot that made me believe that a certain outcome would happen, and yet they made the ending something that completely goes against half the characters’ established personalities. This was an incredible let-down for me as it also went against the underlying moral of the game’s story.
That being said, Gone Home is not a bad game. The whole game lasts maybe one or two hours, and if you can pick it up on a sale, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go. However, the regular price is still far too high to be worth it for a game like this. Once again, Gone Home is not a bad game. I simply wouldn’t advise spending twenty dollars on it because you’ll probably end up disappointed.
Pros: Engaging story, nice graphics, great soundtrack, environment is immersive to the time period
Cons: Expensive for what it is, not much gameplay, short play length, ending conflicts with the moral of the game