Game Review — Gone Home

Gone Home is a first-person adventure
exploration video game developed andpublished by The Fullbright Company. Wikipedia

Initial release date: August 15, 2013
Genre: Adventure game
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS

5PenguinsQuick Reasons: creepy and atmospheric backgrounds; pervasive sense of “racing time”; I jumped to several conclusions…which turned out to be all wrong; beautiful love story/coming-of-age journey; first person POV, which put me right in the action; tons of mystery and quiet drama
  • “But BETH!”  I hear you all shrieking.  “This is a GAME!  You don’t review GAMES!”

 

  • And you’d be right.  I usually don’t.  But I also don’t usually play THIS SORT of game–at least, I didn’t.  I think I might be branching out.  AGAIN.  And this sort of game?  First person POV, adventure/quiet drama, tells a story type?  Yeah, this is my JAM.

 

  • So this morning, the husband dropped by to see me at work.  “So…I finished that game I told you I downloaded on the PS4,” he said.  “Yeah.”  He nodded really hard for about five seconds.  “You should play it.  I think you should play it.  You really need to play it.”

 

  • Well, color me intrigued.  So tonight, when I was bored and seeking something to do…I decided to give it a whirl.  AND OH, MAH PENGUINS–best decision ever, guys.  And now I need more games like this.
  • So first things first:  this is, above all else, a story.  You play the whole game as Katie, freshly home from Europe and searching for her sister Sam, who has mysteriously disappeared.  The story is told BY Sam, through letters, through soundtracks, through photographs and clues… Seeing through Katie’s eyes, you follow where Sam leads, accessing hidden panels, secret doors, and other alcoves throughout the HUMONGOUS mansion they call their home.  There are mentions of ghosts.  There are creaking floorboards, a very angry thunderstorm, and other large-house noises to complete the experience (I listened to this through a headset.  If you can’t turn your volume up very loud on your TV, I recommend doing the same–you’ll miss things otherwise!)

 

  • And the story being told?  Is heartbreaking.  Sam is 17, and struggling to figure out high school and all the drama that comes with it.  She is also fighting to find acceptance–both within and outside of herself.  The notes are often heavy-handed, darkly humorous in places, and heart-wrenching.  Several times throughout the journey, I found myself questioning where the story was leading me–only to be very happily wrong at the end.
  • The attention to detail is also ASTOUNDING.  Just look at those pictures above–the designers left nothing out.  Every room has light switches or light strings to give better vantage to players; TVs and cassette players turn off and on at the click of a button…  And this house is HUGE, guys.  I sometimes felt, turning corners in hallways, as if it might just go on forever… which means there are a LOT of rooms, nooks, and crannies to cram with details and general stuff.

 

  • Overall, this was a highly enjoyable evening spent…and now I need more games like it in my world.  I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this journey earlier, but I am SO glad that I followed the husband’s orders and played this game!  It’s sort of like an “I Spy,” but for adults.  The moody atmosphere, the attention to detail, and the heart-wrenching story made for one HELL of a gaming experience; I can’t wait to see what else this (genre?) has to offer.
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One thought on “Game Review — Gone Home

  1. Pingback: Sunday Post (#23) | betwixt-the-pages

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