It is good to break the monotony by reviewing a game that is not a visual novel. This time we will be taking a look at The Fullbright Company’s Gone Home.
Genres: First-Person, Exploration, Puzzle
Themes: Drama, Yuri
Length: Short (2-4 hours)
Plot Summary: You (Katie) 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?
Gone Home is a first-person exploration game where the player, as Katie, explores the seemingly abandoned house looking for clues as to her parents and sister Sam’s whereabouts. Katie has only three actions, moving around, interacting with objects and triggering stuff. There are no enemies to be found other than locked doors and a few puzzles. Exploration and interaction is the name of the game which can be a turn off for some. Having said that the game is actually linear with Katie finding the right clues, unlocking doors and solving some puzzles to progress to the end. There is a sidequest but completing it is not necessary to beat the game but as long as players does not trigger the final clue they are free to finish the sidequest if they so wish.
As Katie finds, examines and reads whatever is in front of her the player learns more about the family little by little, especially Sam whose story is the main one. More on that in a bit. The parents’ story is the sidequest, which without spoiling involves conspiracies among other things. Sadly as far as Katie herself goes players learn very little as she is more an “observer” putting everything together than a key player. On the bright side Katie’s family sound like an interesting bunch and learning about them is worth the trip through the “spooky” empty house.
Speaking of “spooky” it is worth mentioning that the house itself plays an important role in the story regarding both atmosphere and storytelling. Pay attention to certain rooms and it will be made clear why the house was mentioned. The infinite rain along with the dim lights help set a solemn mood that is just enough to be mildly creepy but not scary. Also the posters and other items indicating a late 80’s to early 90’s timeline is swell for 90’s kids such as yours truly. Another nice touch is that outside of cassette tapes, the TV and Sam’s narration when finding key items the house is mostly silent. It adds to the mood. Katie (Sarah Elmaleh) does get a speaking role in the intro but otherwise the only other voice actor in the game is Sam’s (Sarah Grayson) and she does a pretty good job so kudos.
As mentioned above Sam’s story is the central one in the game and since it is being reviewed on this site readers can guess why that is a good thing. Without spoiling it is kind of a story about emergence and acceptance. As for how it ends it is best for the interested to find out themselves.
Overall Gone Home is a simple yet effective game with an interesting cast that is only present in messages. The lack of action can be a turn off for some but readers who are interested can give the game a try sometime, though for the set price it may be better to wait for a special sale if one does appear at some point. If not hope for a possible price drop. Still a decent game worth playing at least once.