Gone Home is an interactive exploration simulator, a story exploration game from The Fullbright Company.
“It is June 7th, 1995. 1:15 AM. You arrive home after a year abroad. You expect your family to greet you, but the house is empty. Something’s not right. Where is everyone? And what’s happened here? Unravel the mystery for yourself in Gone Home. Interrogate every detail of a seemingly normal house to discover the story of the people who live there. Open any drawer and door. Pick up objects and examine them to discover clues. Uncover the events of one family’s lives by investigating what they’ve left behind.”
Clocking in at around maybe 2 hours, the game offers the player a rather short but surprisingly deep and emotive experience. Here the story is not directly revealed to the player. Instead, utilising a system of passive story telling, characters and story fragments are revealed to the player through semi non linear exploration, and it is up to the player to piece together these fragments for themselves to form their own cohesive story.
Not going to say too much more since doing so might spoil for the game for anyone who has yet to experience it. However I am gonna say this – you CAN go home again.
- Personal, emotive experience, with a cast of believable and fully developed characters – amazing feat considering the fact that there are no actual NPCs present in this game.
- Passive story telling through exploration. There are no instructions, no enemies, no puzzles, and no actual plot to speak of. The game leaves it to the player to create their own profiles of the characters, as well as their own stories and chains of events based on what they find around the house.
- Flawless attention to details. The house the game sets in is fully realised, filled to the brim with the family’s personal and everyday belongings. What the devs have created is not just another soulless building in a game, but rather a real home, and with it a real family, complete with real hopes, fears, and dreams.
- 1995. The 90’s setting is a HUGE plus for me, since the 90’s was by far the most treasured part of my childhood. Filled to the brim with The X-Files and other pop culture references; SNES cartridges; VHS and audio cassette tapes; CRT TVs, and more – this game is not only set in 1995, but is in fact a true tribute to that period.
- Developer Commentary Mode. More than an hour and a half of audio commentary from the developers of the game.
- The ending. The game did not end the way I thought it would, and thus did not have the impact that I was expecting leading up to the end, which unfortunately left me somewhat disappointed. Not going to say much more here, since I do not want to ruin it for anyone. However, I do want to stress that even though I am listing it as a minus, it is NOT a bad ending for the game.