After trawling the fairly non-exhaustive ‘Best Games of 2013’ lists, I came across a game which intrigued me – low budget, first-person and heavily story based. Major reviews raved about it, so I took the plunge on ‘_Gone Home_’ – the first effort of The Fullbright Company.
You play as Kaitlin Greenbriar, a fairly typical 21 year-old American girl just back from her year-long trip to Europe. However, when you enter your (absolutely massive) house you find it completely deserted; neither your sister nor your parents at home. Your objective is to find out what the hell has gone on.
The game mechanics are very simple: you walk around your house, entering every single room and investigating objects, learning more about the recent actions of your family members with every opening of a door. You quickly learn that despite being able, there is no point picking up pens and other mundane objects. However, there is a lot to be learnt from your fathers’ own fiction books about JFK, old family mementos and, in particular, your sisters’ possessions. With some of the items, your sister’s voice comes out of nowhere to provide a bit of background knowledge – which is a relief considering you would hear nothing else but the eerie storm outside and the exaggerated creaking of your house’s floorboards.
Graphically, this game is amazing considering the modest size of the company behind it. Manipulatable objects are well crafted and written notes all have a personal feel about them. In some ways it is a shame that the gameplay is limited to the beautifully designed house.
The game will take you about 3-4 hours and whether you will enjoy it has very little to do with the simple gameplay or graphics – Gone Home is all about a story. Taking such little time to complete it, Gone Home feels more like a short novel or long movie, where you have control over which rooms are explored and in what order. Without prior knowledge it would be easy to assume that this is a horror game, or at least would have some element of it – but any fright you feel is going to be fabricated by your own experiences of similar games and movies.
To give anything away about the story would ruin your experience, but it is well worth noting that this game will certainly not be for everyone. To put a (not so long) story short, this game is about relationships and particularly how they are dealt with by different people in different situations. The game is somehow relaxed, but you’re always going to be on edge, not knowing what secrets your house will have to tell. What it lacks in thrills, it will compensate in heart-wrenching plot twists. To summarise, this is the sort of game that you will want to pick up on the Steam Winter sale rather than fork out £14.99 on. However, spend an evening on it and it will likely not be one wasted.
Gone Home_ is currently available on Windows, Mac and Linux and will be released on the Wii U in late 2014._