Gone Home – PC
Developer: The Fullbright Company
Publisher: The Fullbright Company
Release Date: August 15th, 2013
Nerd Rating: 8 / 10
Reviewed by: TheYellowKing
When Gone Home was released it was met with a fair amount of praise. This praising helped give me wind, thus resulting in my interest which I was lousy on ceasing. When I first heard of the concepts, got a look at the gameplay, and heard multiple gaming community figures speak about the attitude this game carries itself with, I knew it was for me: returning to an empty house emitting uncanny senses, but offering a detailed narrative and a solid sense of place through sifting through objects in this home. The praise was deserved.
Immediately I was met by an enticing, very nocturnal title screen. It was simple, and expressed the mystery that lied behind these mundanely magnificent walls. You take the role of Katy Greenbriar; she departed for a lengthy tour of Europe, and has now returned to her home in Arbor Hill only to be met by an empty house. Immediately you are washed over with confusion, and fear-filled uncertainty.
From when the first voice-over from my omnipotent little sister’s narrative washed over my senses, I began to pick up what kind of family we were. Every item, note, cassette, poster, book and condom further shows the characters that reside(ed?) in this home. You will find yourself grabbing and examining every item in the household, which rewards you with further discovering certain items that were hidden underneath the average can’o’soda. However, this also results in a flaw. At times, after picking up and examining ten “Dr. Litter’s” you will feel hassled, which is quite crucial seeing how sifting through items is a sole game mechanic. I was able to push through and be rewarded by heartwarming, cheeky, interesting, and compelling information on the Greenbriar’s.
Speaking of cheeky, this game is very “cheeky,” from the “Nailed It” nail polish, to the menstruation driven stories your little sister Sam wrote in school. This wit is also coupled by a claustrophobic pressure and pain that we can all relate to (or should). These pressures penetrate deep, changing the entire mold of the atmosphere within a couple of read, or heard, sentences. For example; Sam has a few notes and voice-overs involving her immature “ghost-hunting.” With this news revealed and her “evidence” (as ridiculous as it may be), came a fairly lengthy pressure that some horror may be following me throughout this dim, Arbor Hill abode (which I made dimmer by switching off lights when I was through with an area out of politeness). This pressure was dissolved more and more as I discovered even more compelling molds to the atmosphere.
These atmospheres molders get sweet at times, Hallmark sweet. I would say “too sweet for their own good,” but I can’t. For once I was with that Hallmark sweet character as she fed me this dish of Hallmark sweetness. I liked it. At times it is just a seasoned cliche, but through the immersion the gameplay offers and the encompassing search for what these people are all about, they become quite tear-jerking. It goes to show that in the right context, and if the composition is actually good, anything can be highly likable and compelling.
The gameplay isn’t perfect though. The rummaging caused my wrist pain due to the motions that had to be performed in order to thoroughly sift through items. This ailment could easily be cured by using a console controller though. Also, at times when you move items around, they will never return to their former position, even if you are facing that position and the caption “put back” is apparent. The object simply glitches into peripheral space. Lastly, when examining objects after grasping them, you must either hold down left shift or right click the whole time. This may seem trivial, but it is slightly grating. Still, my complaints only slightly, very slightly, impact gameplay.
Another source of immersion is the media at play. Highly integrated into the game is music, specifically moody punk/grunge, and alternative rock groups that were popular in the 90’s, along with some old jazz performers, country, and psychedelic rock. A few small indie punk groups contributed to the score, which is integrated in the form of cassettes which your sister Sam received from her close friend. There is also a fair amount of film history at play. Sam has cut-outs of popular actresses of the time pasted on her locker, along with handmade, humorous captions. You can also discover a note in which Sam and a friend plan to sneak off to the cinema and get their first-watch of “newly-released” Pulp Fiction. On top of this are countless VHS tapes that have been recorded over with episodes of the X-Files and so forth. This clever use of media implicates a place in a very relative state of being, and assists the solidification of the setting which surrounds you.
Gone Home is a beautifully crafted piece of work, props to the Fullbright Company. I recommend downloading it now, shutting off the lights, and musing over your monitor for a bit. Completing it in one sitting is most likely the best way to go. The game is short, though satisfying. You will be slightly blinded after returning from dark, Arbor Hill, but it’s worth it!
Share This Post