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Gone Home Review

Gone Home

Release: 15/08/2013
Publisher: The Fullbright Company
Developer: The Fullbright Company
Genre: Adventure
PEGI: RP
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OUR SCORE

Excellent About Rating
          
 
8.5 - Gameplay
           
 
9.5 - Video
           
 
9.5 - Audio
           
 

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Gone Home Review – Introduction

Gone Home is special. A creation designed to grasp the industry and its fans by their collar, and show them how a mature and painfully honest story should be told. While some games are set in fantastical worlds, such as a floating city or an apocalyptic world, Gone Home prides itself on its simplicity and intimacy. And like any good novel, Gone Home’s strength is the way it rewards people once they uncover and solve the game’s many metaphorical and clever puzzles. It isn’t fantastical by any means, nor is it complex mechanically, but it is immeasurably genuine. 

A Story Told Through Facile Methods 

The story of Gone Home is seen through the eyes of a young female adult visiting her home after a two year absence. With a handful of carry-on bags beside her feet, and a viscously stormy night welcoming her return, she enters a home devoid of her family. Their absence and the life they lived for those two years is the first curious draw the game offers the player. The Greenbriar household (the game’s setting), is a small mansion. As you enter through the front door, the entirety of the empty digital setting is open to the player. The immaculate sound design helps elevate the tension the player will undoubtedly feel, and complex details spread about the home will add a thirst for knowledge. 

Gone Home is special. A creation designed to grasp the industry and its fans by their collar, and show them how a mature and painfully honest story should be told

Gone Home is a first-person exploratory adventure game; you’ll largely explore and find clues that progress the narrative in a clever way. There’s absolutely no combat, there isn’t an enemy to be found, and the game is better for it. You’ll feel a sense of satisfaction when you solve a puzzle, euphoria of joy once you can resume your progress through the game. Each interactive object feels important and is littered with clever story details. They help enrich the game’s lore and tell intriguing side stories that breathe life into each member of the Greenbriar family. I found myself serendipitously discovering new clues and objects that expanded my understanding and knowledge of the simple universe this small studio created. And what The Fullbright Company should be commended for is their ability to tell an alluring tale by the means of simple gameplay mechanics. 

The writing is excellent, and most of the main story, if not all, is told through the narrative viewpoint of your character’s younger sister. But The Fulbright Company was able to completely avoid lines of dialogue between any two characters, making the only narration in the game that much more important and compelling. The lone voice-acting is quite proper. It is exceptional and some of the best work I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. With each line spoken you can feel the emotions enveloping Samantha, the main character’s sister. Samantha’s story is brave and should help mature the video game industry as a whole. No other game has dealt with the same societal and cultural issues that Gone Home bravely deals with. 

The Setting

Gone Home is driven by exploration and the Greenbriar household can be viewed as a character all by itself. As mentioned previously, the small mansion is filled with detail. Each room feels like it has been lived in by an ordinary family. As I explored Samantha’s bedroom, I couldn’t help but feel a nudge of nostalgia. Clothes scattered about, posters of rock bands plastered all over the bedroom walls, an old CRT Television resting at the back of her room. I felt like I was exploring a digital version of my old room. Gone Home is set sometime in the 90s, and you could sense the homage to 90s pop culture running through each room. 

 

VHS cassettes of classic movies can be seen lying around the house, and old video game cartridges obliquely referencing 90s arcade hits are scattered about. The house itself, structurally, also feels like an obeisance to specific 90s video games. The second I entered the Greenbriar household I instantly thought of Resident Evil’s mansion. And since the house warrants for exploration and entices the player to discover its many hidden passage ways and secrets, the comparison to classic video game designs had to be made. 

It’s Short, But Has Great Replay Value

The easiest way to discredit Gone Home would be to criticize its short length. The game can be completed in two hours, and this might discourage people to purchase. But the title is filled with voluminous amounts of replay value. It’ll be nearly impossible for the common eye to discover and catch every single object, reference, and secret in a single play through. Gone Home is meant to be played multiple times, and you’ll feel great that you did. And just like last year’s Journey, the memorable experience you’ll undoubtedly gain from Gone Home will leave a lasting impact. 

Conclusion 

Gone Home is a brave move by The Fullbright Company; a game that makes great strides in mature storytelling. It’s undoubtedly intimate, as you become absorbed in a personal tale of a young teen trying to discover and experiment with her feelings and role in life. It’s miraculously well crafted, with terrific attention to detail. And it’s filled with plenty of warm 90s nostalgia. Gone Home should stand testament to how a poignant story could make all the difference.

Positives

  • An honest and intimate story
  • Voice-acting and sound design is fantastic
  • Attention to detail is immaculate
  • Great homage to 90s pop culture

Negatives

  • The short length might discourage a few purchases
 

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