I mean why not a review thread on games too, eh?
Game: Gone Home
Genre: First-Person Adventure
Developer: The Fullbright Company
Let me just tell you straight away that Gone Home is NOT a horror game. It may seem like I’m spoiling the plot, but in practice, I’m turning your expectation, if you ever play the game, to the right direction. The sole focus of the game is its story. When you finish the game, you either care about the story or you don’t; you either appreciate the whole experience or you don’t. Judging from the online user reviews, many fall into the latter category despite the overwhelming praises from the critics. And having finished the game, I can sort of understand the divide.
Gameplay-wise, Gone Home does nothing spectacular in terms of its technical execution. Many have come and done the same sort of interactive storytelling before and I’m sure there’ll be more of these for years to come. It’s a first-person adventure game with an interactive environment and that’s it. You simply poke around and play with everything you come across. And when you’re done with one part of the game, you move onto the next and so on. It’s very linear and there are no puzzles whatsoever to challenge you in the slightest.
Missing: The Greenbriar Family
But the game stands out in the way the story is told, well, at least in contrast to what the main stream titles are doing. But this is not to say that its technique is unique among other forms of media, like film for instance. In Gone Home, you are Katie Greenbriar who has “returned” home after a year abroad—"returned" to a house that her family moved in after she’d left. You find no one at the doorstep to welcome you and the house eerily empty, especially in a dark and stormy night. Your goal, as a player, is to find pieces and bits of information, mostly personal writings, and put them together, not just to figure out what happened to your family in the past 12 months, but also to reconstruct their past and the personal stories involved. You have to go through a lot of reading materials, ranging from letters, newspaper clippings, memos, private notes passed between friends…etc. There are also subtle environmental clues to hint at certain events. That being said, to fully understand the story you must pay careful attention to the numbers, dates and names that you come across or you might overlook certain crucial information. However, the game will read you a diary entry whenever you interactive with certain objects, so you’re still learning the story without too much reading. But as they say, the devil is in the details.
Like I told you, this is not a horror game.
Ultimately, the focus of the game, as I’ve said, is its story or more importantly, what the story is ABOUT. If you could somehow immerse yourself in the story, connect with the characters or even feel for them, Gone Home has done its job. If you had problem accepting what story is about or its subject matter in the first place, Gone Home may be the worst game you’ve ever played.
Do you recommend this game?
Gone Home is not a game for everyone, that’s for sure. If you're looking for some adrenaline-rushing, heart-pumping experience, stay away from Gone Home at all cost. But if you enjoy a well-written story (or are an English major) and have the patience reading mundane anecdotes, Gone Home may be of interest to you.
Personally, I do not identify myself with the characters in many important respects nor can I relate to the plot, but Gone Home succeeds in telling a genuine human story and that's what matters (even though I still hate games that require heavy reading). So did I enjoy playing the game after all? Well, let's just say that I've had a unique and interesting experience with Gone Home and I certainly don't regret playing it.
Edited by Hat Trick Maker, 29 June 2014 - 09:34 PM.