Gone Home
March 18, 2017 3:05 PM - Subscribe

Gone Home is a narrative/exploration game from The Fullbright Company. You play as a young woman who arrives one rainy night at her family's recently inherited home, where nobody appears to be around. By finding notes, letters, and other items around the house, you learn what your mother, father, and younger sister, Samantha, have been up to in your absence.
posted by RobotHero to Narrative Games (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've played this twice, and loved it both times. There are some elements that I find a bit rough, but overall it's a great game.

I'll start by saying that hunting down keys is sort of a weak way to get the player to experience the story, but I also understand that having a (more or less) realistic setting like a house really limits traditional gameplay mechanics. In that light, having a oddly locked doors and requiring the player to find keys and combinations makes some sense. I'm not really sure what else you could do in place of this, but as it stands it's not my favorite part of the game.

That being said, the environmental design more than makes up for it. The amount of love and care that went into rendering each tissue box, text book, and incidental piece of domestic clutter is amazing. Rummaging through this family's personal belongings to uncover the ~5 stories (Sam's, mom's, dad's, your own, the ghost's) that comprise the narrative is very satisfying and engaging. Small touches, like a bottle of whiskey stashed away in Dad's study, or the music festival posters hung up in mom's space, are all quite endearing.

In this past playthrough I actually found a set-piece I hadn't seen before. In one of the first hidden spaces in the house (I think the location where you first find Sam's notes about Oscar), you can pick up a Crucifix, which causes the hanging light above you to pop. I'm not sure if I've missed other ghost scenes, but that legitimately creeped me out.

Something that I realized with this second playthrough, is that in-universe, Kaitlin isn't getting the voiceovers with all of the bits she finds - I suppose that, in continuity, this trip through the house is something like a memory that she's reconstructing after having read the diary which serves as the game's end-point. That's pretty interesting, and not something that most games do in terms of leaving the player to piece out what was happening in present tense, and what was added later (most of the time games just have the player in an infinite present-tense).

So, anyway, that's all to say that Gone Home isn't necessarily my favorite game, but I really do enjoy it. I'm looking forward to their next release with Tacoma (seems to be a Sci-Fi flavored narrative game) later this year.
posted by codacorolla at 10:56 AM on March 19, 2017

The bit with the light popping out is one of the moments that makes me think of Gone Home in terms of what kind of similar games it is not. Like, a lot of horror games would have done that sort of thing, and also they often do the "learn story from notes" thing.

In my mind I associated that moment a bit with the "get thee to a nunnery" joke and some other things that made me worry someone was getting sent to a "conversion" camp or something.

They keys were probably necessary to get you to read the notes in some semblance of a controlled order. The only game I know of that doesn't push you towards a particular sequence at all would be Her Story which is very interesting but that's kind of its whole shtick so I wouldn't expect everything to work that way.

There was a point where I believed Sam had gone to break Lottie out of the aforementioned conversion camp, and was relieved when the real ending was a little more up-beat, and I guess that wouldn't have occurred if I had just found the ending first.

The architecture is sometimes kind of uncanny valley to me. They sort of justify it in the narrative about inheriting the house from Oscar and Lottie referring to it as the Psycho house. And there's certainly other games with stuff that makes a lot less sense. On the plus side you do get the sense of each room's purpose, and/or which family member has adopted it as theirs.
posted by RobotHero at 1:39 PM on March 19, 2017

Oh, and I had sort of forgotten Oscar's story this time around and didn't want to crawl a wikia for it: he was basically addicted to morphine, right? That's the secret that he had? Hence the items in the safe, and the apologetic letter to his sister?
posted by codacorolla at 2:23 PM on March 19, 2017

I really enjoyed this game, it was like being inside a beautifully written short story, the sort you read wrapped up in a blanket on a rainy night with a hot mug of tea. I like the idea that video games can be subtly mysterious; at parts it felt like it was going to be a ghost story, but stopped short of having any actual supernatural elements.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:40 AM on March 21, 2017

Wasn't Oscar abused? It's been a while but I thought he was abused.

I really enjoyed the creepy suspenseful nature of the game, and the full-on sense of dread I had when approaching the attic at the end was pretty great. I am glad it did not end the way it felt like it might.

I also just really want to go through people's stuff.
posted by graventy at 10:41 AM on March 21, 2017

Yeah, Gone Home is an A+ "dig through a stranger's shit" simulator.
posted by codacorolla at 10:56 AM on March 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think I never actually unlocked the safe, so I was missing a key part of that story. I didn't make the leap to trying years in the combination lock.
posted by RobotHero at 12:43 PM on March 21, 2017

Hmm, interesting. That could also explain the reputation that the house had in the neighborhood (which by transitive property casts a shadow on Sam).
posted by codacorolla at 2:44 PM on March 21, 2017

I do love the horror fakeout, though I think maybe it was not something I want to see in every kind of explore game, cough cough.

Some things about the story struck a chord with me personally that make most of my thoughts about it not of general interest. It's a decent graphical text adventure, with a focus on women's experiences, and it's good that it got attention as an emblem of a different way for games to be.
posted by fleacircus at 5:27 PM on March 22, 2017

I think my favorite thing I've heard said about Gone Home was "for the first hour I was afraid to find a ghost, and for the second hour I was afraid to find something actually horrifying."
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:49 AM on March 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

How do people feel about Night in the Woods for the next game? It's been out for a while, now.
posted by codacorolla at 7:28 PM on March 23, 2017

I just found my way to this Narrative Games group a couple days ago from the Night in the Woods discussion on the blue. I'd played about half of Gone Home soon after it came out but never got back to finishing it, so this was good motivation to get back to it again. I started over from the beginning yesterday and finished just a moment ago. I was sometimes frustrated with the hidden-object nature of the game (just keep moving your cursor over different things till you find what you can interact with!) but I really enjoyed the slow way the stories for all the different family members reveal themselves, and the hidden objects and the keys do force you to take your time with that. I could see myself going back and replaying just for the chance to figure out what details I missed, especially around Oscar.

A couple tiny details I really enjoyed:
* Seeing the same sex ed homework assignment as completed by each of the two sisters
* The motorcycle ad in Sam's bedroom with the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance reference (the motorcycle company was called Phaedrus)

Also re: NITW for the next game, I'm actively playing my way through it right now and would definitely support that being the next choice.
posted by jessypie at 3:44 PM on March 24, 2017

NITW had a great story and is easily the most emotionally affecting game I've ever played. 100% in favor.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:23 PM on March 24, 2017

Let's do Night in the Woods, with a discussion date of Wed., April 12th. That gives people who are new to it some time to play, and allows people to replay it in advance of the discussion.
posted by codacorolla at 2:05 PM on April 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older The Expanse: Pyre...   |  Iron Fist: Snow Gives Way... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments