Title: Gone Home
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: The Fullbright Company
Publisher: The Fullbright Company
Release Date: Out Now
Tagline: Exploring a Dark and Creepy House during a Rainstorm
Family Friendly: Click here to read more
Verdict: Buy it Already
You would think the simple premise of walking around a house, searching for the story of a family on a rainy night could never make for a game. And yet, Gone Home, now out for consoles from The Fullbright Company is an interesting study in game exploration. It places narrative discovery over gunplay and high theatrics, making for a unique and enthralling experience.
As stated, Gone Home starts with Katie, one of two siblings that has returned home after a stay overseas. Her arrival is greeted with a dark and deserted house, no parents or sister around. So, she does what most people would when greeted with a dark, deserted and slightly creepy house sits in front of you – grab the spare key and enter.
Gone Home’s main premise is about building your story through exploration. There is no gunplay, no shooting and no stat building to be found here. Just a young woman, moving around the house finding out more about herself and the rest of the family and the troubles that might be lurking. As you walk through each room, Katie can search for all sorts of items that will provide insight about someone’s depression, someone’s career focus and even someone in question of who they are as a person.
Pieces of paper, scraps from a TV guide, even cassette tape covers can be considered clues that have backstories attached to them that are created with such care. Handwritten notes that have scratched out words and corrections, or crumpled papers in a wastebasket that were tossed in a fit of failure. The development team have put so much work into crafting each item, giving the player an experience that feels real and emotional.
The journey of exploration in Gone Home should be a great experience for many, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that the game can be finished in a few hours at the most, and that comes with finding every last journal, scrap of paper and more. And it does not offer much beyond experiencing the world in front of you. For many, it could be a rewarding journey, but for some, they will find the lack of action a problem.
While Gone Home has been out for some time on PC, this release on console has added a few new wrinkles to the mix, including moving the game to the Unity 5 engine. This makes the environments pop a bit more off the screen, but in a game where you just move about a house searching for clues, graphics are not the thing that one looks at first. Also added, obviously, is controller support as well.
You won’t find explosions, guns or stats to upgrade in Gone Home, and that is okay. Instead, you can find insight, sadness and joy with each clue that is uncovered through your journey of the house. It is not perfect, and it can be a bit short, but the emotional punch that the game provides with each piece of the story found makes Gone Home a game everyone should experience.
- Each little clue hooks you that much more into the narrative
- Atmosphere is spooky and creepy, making you look for more than might be there
- The time period is used perfectly to assist the story
And Not So Great:
- It is a bit short, lacking little replay value
- No real gameplay per se, as you don’t do much more than walk and click on items
Gone Home should be a game for all players, especially when you look at the base mechanics used by the game. However, there are some complex social issues covered in the game that some parents might not want their children to experience. Sexual identity, gross failure and molestation are all delved into, so you might want to look at keeping this one for those for the older teens and up.
This review was prepared using a code purchased by the reviewer.