A lot of places have stories to tell, especially for the ones who live there. I remember being really young and my mom telling me stories of her move from Korea to the states and how every piece of jewelry, furniture, every book, every toy, it all has a story behind it. Gone Home gives you that place, lets you explore it and uncover these things and very gradually tells a story about each of the people who occupy it.
It’s a rainy night. June, 7, 1995. Kaitlin Greenbrier has arrived home to reunite with her family after a year of studying abroad. But instead is welcomed by a worrying (but apologetic) note from her sister, Sam, asking her to not dig around to find her whereabouts.
If you don’t cut corners, your journey of the Greenbrier house should last around 4 hours (less if you’re quick) By the end you’ll find out where Sam’s run off to and where your parents have gone (which isn’t slightly as important as why. Spoilers.) You’ll uncover the reasons behind their departures as well as some other details of the family’s life in Katie’s absence. You uncover these through rummaging through the many rooms in the house, secret passages and probably the coolest basement I’ve ever seen (not to mention a kitchen/dining room bigger than every bedroom I’ve ever had. Combined)
You learn Katie’s personality through some post cards from her trip to Europe, some interaction prompts from certain things in the house and some stuff along those lines but the story really isn’t focused on her. Each member of the Greenbrier family has a back story that you can uncover throughout your exploration of the house, but Sam’s story takes precedence. You learn her’s through a series of journal entries written by her to Katie, these entries detail everything from her experience moving house and living in a notoriously spooky house, trying to make new friends in her new school and of course her endeavors with a girl called Lonnie whom she eventually forms a romantic relationship with. We learn that Sam’s very headstrong and creative and an all around likable gal. Who doesn’t see a bit of themselves in her? (other than males who grew up in the 80’s or 2000’s)
One of the things I love about this game is that doesn’t feel like a game. I mean, it’s quite obviously a game, with puzzles and a bit of thinking involved, but with the combination of the story, amazing voice acting, and did I mention the level design? It’s phenomenal. All around this game is brilliant on every level and definitely worth playing. The Fullbright Company really didn’t miss anything on their first game and their work really reflects here.
The voice acting is brilliant! The girl who voiced Sam did a really good job with capturing the feelings and emotions that would be felt when conveying some of the events detailed in her logs, not to mention the writing being some of the best I’ve ever seen, these two things are the biggest contributors to making this game the magnificent piece of work it is. The design work that went into it is also really amazing, despite the simplicity of the game as a concept, the level design and aesthetic is as great as the sound. Everything from the little details like the notes on the boards, posters and painting on the walls, the small blemishes in the wallpaper, the small environmental details in there are just astonishing. As I said above, you can definitely tell how much work was put into this, and I cannot stress how much the little things like that add to making this game one of the most immersive experiences ever.
Overall, Gone Home is an emotional journey of self discovery (more or less) and great level design. I highly recommend it to everyone and anyone looking for a nice, calm, chill out game. Or anyone who loves story driven, exploration games.
Gone Home is currently $20 on Steam and can be found here
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