Review: Gone Home

I recently purchased “Gone Home“, a game by The Fullbright Company, on Steam. I know some of my readers probably aren’t interested in games, but I must say this is not a typical game at all.

It is not a combat game or an online game and there are no weapons or bad guys or things like that. It is a stand alone, single player game. Uniquely, his game functions more like an interactive 3D story novel.

While I know I am late into discovering this game, I have for a long time wanted to play it, but always read I should wait for a sale. Recently I put it in my wish list on Steam realizing I always missed the sales, so that way it would notify me when a good price came along. This past week I got the email letting me know it was just seven dollars, so I had to go grab it.

The moment I started it up, I was entranced…

Imagine that you have just returned to the United States, after having been gone on a trip to Europe for over the past year. You have been given an address to where your family now lives. While you were gone, they moved to a new house, a house you learn is called “The Psycho House” by those in the neighborhood.

You head home thinking you’d see your family and get to catch up on life and tell them about your trip and instead… you find an empty home.

There is a note on the door from your sister…

Katie,
I’m sorry I can’t be there to see you, but it is impossible. Please, please don’t go digging around trying to find out where I am. I don’t want Mom and Dad anyone to know. We’ll see each other again some day. Don’t be worried. I love you.
-Sam

The most exceptional thing about this game is that you don’t actually interact with any other characters at all. Instead you interact purely with a house and the contents within the house. I think this makes it that much more interesting.

You play the character Katie and navigate the house in first person. The game makes good use of sound and has decent graphics for an indy game. The layout of the house is very nice and well thought out, it reflects a lived-in feeling that ads to the tone of the game.

Your exploration to piece together the story involves picking up items and examining them, reading notes and scraps of paper and listening to journal entries your sister reads to you upon discovery of certain items.

As you explore the large house, which is really a mansion, you meet all of the characters in the story through all of the objects that belong to them.

Our individuality is quite connected to the items we keep, the pictures we find special, the notes we treasure, the experiences we have – all expressed in our individual possessions. That reality is greatly touched upon in this game as that is how you discover the mysteries that lie before you.

There is an overall arcing storyline, but each member of the family has their own story. You piece this all together through the items you find and little by little you began to understand everything.

There are other elements to the situation – the house does feel creepy and there is a feeling that the place is haunted. It keeps you on your toes as you explore… I jumped quite a bit at one point. There is also this general fear of something that might happen at any time.

I have to say not only is the story very human but all of the characters (except one..) are very easy to relate to. You can understand their situations and where they are in their lives. It is all very realistic and easy to feel some sympathy for what has happened to each of them in their own ways.

“Gone Home” is realistic and played full screen with the sound up and no interruptions makes it quite submersive and enjoyable.

Personally, I sat down and played until it was completely finished in one sitting. Then I had to go online and see what I missed and I did miss a few things, so I had to go back and check them out.

The game left me thinking about it the rest of the day, particularly the history around Oscar Masan and Terry Greenbriar, but I also really loved the main overall storyline.

I have to say it was truly a unique and fun experience to play “Gone Home”. The story is very human and easy to relate to, and the characters are well done.

I don’t want to give much away in case I’ve made anyone interested in trying, but I will say that I think if you want to purchase this you should wait for it to be on sale. The full price for this game I feel is a little too high simply because the game can be finished in one complete sitting (2-6 hours depending on how rushed or relaxed you feel in your exploration).

An additional note I’d like to make is, my screen is rather dark and I found myself feeling like it was almost too dark. In fact, the darkness made it hard for me to discover a few important items in the basement until I found out about them online. In the settings you can nudge up the brightness and I think just one or two little notches up would have improved my experience. If your screen tends to be darkish.. I’d highly recommend adjusting that brightness in the game settings up. Not too much though… darkness is an important part of the setting in the game environment.

Overall I’d like to say that this game is beautifully made, has a remarkable setting and story, and is presented in a very compelling and interesting way.  I’d easily give this a 4.5 out of 5 stars on that rating scale. The .5 knocked off for the playtime being too short compared to the retail cost. Otherwise.. amazing and well worth a good play through.

  • Gone Home” the website. You can read about and watch some video here.
  • Steam is where to purchase this game.

 

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