Gone Home: A Simple Story, A Complex Masterpiece
Gone Home is a well told story wrapped in a $20 package.
There comes a time in every adult’s life when they go to where they once called “home,” and realize that it no longer feels like it used to.Gone Home revolves around Katie, a girl entering her family’s new home after a year abroad in Europe. The real star of the show is Katie’s sister though – Sam. As Katie explores the mansion her family has recently moved into she also discovers what her beloved sister and somewhat estranged parents have been going through while she was gallivanting in lands beyond.**Falsified happiness. America!**GameplayAnyone who has played games like Dear Esther will find themselves treading familiar territory in Gone Home. As Katie you are walking around your new mansion, complete with hidden nooks (and crannies) searching for clues regarding the whereabouts of your sister, with whom you are very close, and your parents.You come across locked doors, keys and snippets of paper that flesh out the mansion and its residents – both current and former.The only real caveat I found with the gameplay is that you walk so slowly. It’s a minor gripe, as I was rarely bored, but when you want to get from place to place to discover the next snippet of the story you really want to just get there.All in all the gameplay only needs walking, crouching and clicking. It's not fancy, but it's perfect for this kind of game.**The house is occasionally super creepy.**StoryGone Home really shines when you delve into the story. Though you play as the studious Katie the story actually revolves around her sister Sam’s experience in her new high school. While many trophies and accolades littering the massive house indicate that Katie was always a high achieving, studious girl. Sam, however, was somewhat of a black sheep of the family. The story makes clear that the girls were very close, and told each other everything, but without Katie, Sam lost a confidante and partner when she needed one most.The story is largely told through voiceovers from Sam that pop in after reading certain documents or entering a specific room, and this probably would have failed had the voice acting not been impeccable. Everything that Sam is going through is expertly expressed via the voiceovers and as a player you really respond and care about what happens to her.The story is somewhat “real life” – there are no weird ghosts or aliens to speak of, it’s just the story of a unique girl struggling with some very difficult things at such a young age. I’ll leave the rest for you to discover, as I don’t want to ruin it, but let me make clear that the story is impeccably told, and you buy it every step of the way right up to the point where you discover what finally happened to Sam just before you arrived at the house, and why she wasn't there to greet you when you walked in.**Not perfect, but more than serviceable for what the game needs.**PresentationThere isn’t really much to be said about Gone Home’s look. It’s very mundane, but rightfully so.This is a story driven game that has no need for crazy bloom lighting and ridiculous physics. It’s just a house and as such the game looks good. Don’t expect to go into it with it looking like Crysis 3 or anything, simply because it doesn’t need to.**Sometimes bizarre messages litter the home and evolve the story.**ValueGone Home is a short ride. It’s a four or five hour journey that can easily be tackled in one play through. With that in mind, the $20 price tag is a little steep. However given the quality and gravity of the story I would recommend picking it up regardless.If you’re going to go out and pay $18 for a movie for an hour and a half, you may as well stay in and pay $20 for a five-hour experience that’s probably better than jOBS anyway.**Thanks guys and gals.**Final WordGone Home is not Halo or Metal Gear, but it is the kind of game that people need to see. The visuals wont blow your mind, and it’s a tad expensive for what it is, but the story will simultaneously keep you guessing and break your heart. Seriously, anyone who doesn’t get a little lump in their throat should be examined, because they’re probably a sociopath.Gone Home is just a real life story that is well worth the somewhat steep price of admission.So am I giving too much to this story, or did it hit you hard in your heart cavity? Go play Gone Home and sound off in the comments down below! If you do maybe when you get home from a year abroad in Europe I’ll actually be there to greet you!
Published Aug. 27th 2013