Following a tally up of all of the games in my pile of titles I have shamefully not played yet, I have decided to do a mini series dedicated to finally taking some time to ticking them off the list! These titles span across indie, triple As and maybe even some games I wanted to go back and try out again!
The first game I decided to pick for this project is Gone Home. I am aware how late to the party I am for this game seeing as it was originally released on PC in 2013 and made its console debut in 2016. So after a year of it being installed on my PS4, it felt like a good time to check it out.
It’s 1995 and Katie has returned home from a year abroad. When Katie arrives, the house is empty and she will need search this house to find out where everyone is and what happened here.
First thing to point out for those of you who have not heard of this game or, like me, you’ve had it sat there a while gathering the digital equivalent of dust, this is an story exploration game. It’s purpose is to tell a story and draw you in while you play. It is also not a particularly long game unless you are willing to spend time reading every note you find, checking every box, drawer and bookcase. So I would suggest taking your time to digest what you find as it will help you piece things together.
But the purpose of this is for you, Katie, to explore your family’s home to work out where they are. Your sister, Sam, has left notes all around the house, warning you not to look into things too much but of course, you will. Initially I was almost scared to search the house just because in my experience, an empty house means ghosts and it didn’t help with certain books and notes being left around but it isn’t, it’s more like a puzzle that needs to be put back together. As you read notes, you notice your sister has become more rebellious, your dad has had a turbulent time with his writing career and your mum has been doing really well since they moved here… albeit at a cost.
As you explore, you hear Sam telling you segments of stories, about this girl she knows and how people refer to her as the Psycho House Girl. Some doors are locked meaning you’ll have to find a way around which leads you to discover that there is more to this house than meets the eye. You learn about your uncle, the reason why your parents aren’t home and why Sam didn’t want you to look in to things. There are magazines, books, cassette tapes to listen to, postcards among other items which help you piece things together and get to know the family Katie has been away from for a year.
I don’t want to spoil things for those of you who haven’t played yet, but the story struck a chord for me. When I realised what was going on with Sam, I was happy but as the ending drew closer and the last sections of Sam’s journal were spoken, I was filled with sadness. I enjoyed the game in what it offers as a means of telling a story by exploring your surroundings and although I finished it within 2 hours (as I took my time looking at everything) I was satisfied with the amount of time it took to play as any longer may have made me question why they felt the need to drag the story out.
I did enjoy Gone Home and am glad I finally took the time to explore. For some, it may be too short and maybe feel like there could have been more, but there are 3 or 4 different aspects of the story which weave in and out of each other. Realistically, if you came home to an empty house, you would also check every room and look for anything you could find to piece events together. Fortunately in this instance, all of the answers are there… and luckily, it isn’t ghosts. I do get the feeling that this is game you will either really like or really not see the point of, but if you haven’t played it yet, be sure to give it a look if you have a couple of hours spare just to experience a different way of story telling through video games.