Game Review: Gone Home

Can’t you see I’m walkin’ here?

Developer: The Fullbright Company
Publisher: The Fullbright Company
Platforms: Microsoft Windows (reviewed), MacOS, Linux
Available on: Steam

As usual, I’m late to the party. But I have to say that in spite of all the negative stuff I’ve heard about this game, I came away rather liking it. Gameplay-wise it’s your typical walking simulator with no real gameplay going on. It tries to be clever at first by making the player assume that the creepy atmosphere hides a horror game somewhere in there, but before long, you’ll figure out that there’s nothing there. Literally, it’s another case of a game where the devs got away with not modeling, rigging and animating living things.

The interactivity here is certainly higher than in something like Dear Esther, but that’s not saying much, because most of the things you can interact with are just not worth it. You can pick up tons of objects in the house but it won’t matter. Only a handful of items actually reveal audio logs or other items hidden beneath them and there’s only a marginal puzzle aspect in the sense that you need to find lock combinations and keys for certain parts of the house. But technically, you can also sequence break the entire house (which I almost did, because I’m used to clicking on absolutely everything) by heading straight towards the place that nets you the attic key and you could “beat” the game in less than a minute.

What I really like about the game however is the narrative. It’s really sweet and endearing in a way that made me care more than usual about stuff like this, which at the very least means that the writing of both the audio logs as well as the letters you find in the house is pretty good, as well as the voice acting of the audio logs. If you look at more than just the central narrative, the inner workings of the mother and father of the protagonist are also fairly detailed and tell another interesting story.

It’s not monumentally deep stuff or even a story that hasn’t been told before in some capacity, but I still left the game with a smile on my face. At 2 hours, it’s pretty much the right length, although I’d not recommend it at the $20 they’re asking for it. It’s good, but not that good.

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