I’ve played Gone Home on the PC today. It’s more of an interactive story than a game per se, but there’s challenge, and the storytelling drew me in. What an entirely different sentimental experience that was!
Gone Home, released in 2013, was developed by Fullbright. The story takes place in the year 1990 and is about sexuality and coming of age. The player’s perspective is of Katie, the older of the two Greenbriar daughters, who has just spent a year backpacking in Europe then arrives to their new home apparently for the first time only to find out that the dwelling is empty. She finds a note from her younger sister, Sam, suggesting as if something bad has happened. She then tries to find out about the family’s whereabouts.
Basically, all you have to do in this game is play as Katie to explore the mansion — find notes, examine objects, open doors/drawers, read letters, come across panels that lead to secret rooms – to discover what has been going on. As you go through your exploration, you’re going to realize that the story focuses on the younger sister. Some items you examine trigger audio narration from her which are the journal entries she made for Katie.
There are no enemies in the game, which I think is somehow an x-factor amidst a culture of action games because it shows that a game doesn’t need an attack button to make it challenging or interesting. There’s no specific route to follow while exploring; you’re just guided by the things you discover and the game let’s your rationality put things together. That’s what’s challenging about it. Every letter or note you pick up reveals something essential in the story that should trigger you to really dig into stuff hoping you might discover anything useful. In some way, the story is relatable, more so that the setting is so convincing that you feel as if you’re exploring a real place. The emotion portrayed in the voice acting complements the setting.
I’ve played Gone Home in one sitting for around three hours. About five hours have passed since I exited the game, but I’m still surprised on the fact that a rather simple interactive application can create such thought-provoking and poignant experience. Although it did not bring tears to my eyes like Life is Strange, I love it nonetheless. It’s sensible entertainment.