Platforms: PS4, Windows, Xbox One, Linux, Mac
Publisher: Fullbright, Majesco
As it’s a very short game and it’s all about the story, there are no spoilers so you’re free to read on if you so wish!
Gone Home is a first -person adventure game where you explore the entirety of your home. You take on the role as Kaitlin Greenbriar, who returns to her family home, yet no one is at home. Your job is to traverse through the house and as you find more clues, the story unfolds. It’s a game where it encourages you to read everything you can if possible so that you’re fully aware of the story, but at times…you just don’t feel like reading through 3 or 4 pages of financial records or about a book publishing. After all, isn’t it just a game? Well, yeah it is a game in the usual sense where you play as a character and you are able to interact with many things throughout the game, but it’s more of an interactive story-telling game and not like the episodic style gameplay that Life Is Strange or Game of Thrones beautifully show, it’s along the lines of Dear Esther and those types of games. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, because it’s not, Gone Home isn’t a bad game at all.
While I did somewhat enjoy my playthrough of Gone Home, I just wasn’t fully satisfied until the ending and it’s most likely due to how incredibly short and dire it’s replay value is. Despite the dramatic and tense story as it’s being told by you (Kaitlin), I quickly found myself forgetting about the game a day or two after. The ending is the only memorable part of the game because it finally all my questions about what the blue Jesus is going on. After thinking about it, the ending is fantastic and it did move me in some way as I’m sure it will do to you if you have or are still yet to play this game.
It’s incredibly short
One of the things that could break a game for me is whether it’s a short game. If a game is too short, I tend to quickly forget about it because I like spending more time on games to fully immerse myself in their worlds and unless it’s a spectacular game, it will go straight to the back of my mind after a couple of days. One of the problems with Gone Home for me, is that it’s a very short game and I don’t mean 5-6 hours like Dishonored, I mean 119 minutes! Yes, Gone Home lasted me just under two hours and I was reading most things I found while searching around the house. I’m certain I missed a few things so I could have stretched it out another 30 or so minutes but with Gone Home, you’re looking at a 2-3 hour game or even less than 119 minutes if you’re not someone who likes to read through everything! The thing is, I can’t image the game being longer than it is, but I will say that I didn’t expect it to be this short before I had purchased the game.
Talking about purchasing the game, I was fortunate to get it on sale at around £3 and I wouldn’t have spent more than £5 on these types of games otherwise the length of the game wouldn’t justify the price. For a game that’s usually priced at £14.99 for PC and £15.99 for console, I would seriously recommend that you wait until it lowers in price because I don’t see how the length of the game and it’s poor replay value (mainly because there’s only one ending and every playthrough is the same) is justified by its current price. Darksiders II on PS4 is roughly £18 and that game will give you a solid 40 hours of gameplay! Now I’m not slaying the game based off the price, I’m just trying to explain why I’d only recommend this game at a certain price and paying more than that might make you feel that you deserve more.
But it isn’t a bad game
As I’ve said before, Gone Home is by no means a bad game. While it is short, it does what it needs to do and it does it very well. The wind constantly bashes against the seemingly lonely house as you search your own home for clues and answers makes the experience feel more immersive and intimate. I had no idea if it was a horror game or simply just a storytelling experience before I had bought it, but I soon found that while it’s 100% not a horror game, just being in this house alone where you can turn on/off the lights, makes it more thrilling and as I was playing it, I repeatedly thought that “something isn’t right here”. You’re essentially looking through someone else’s eyes and seeing how their life in this house is and hearing the voice of that person as you find important notes or pictures. It feels like, dare I say, a “visual” audio book. What you imagine in your head as you listen to audio books is what this game does.
The game has only one mechanic really, and that is to interact with things around the house. You either pick up items such as cassette tapes, notes, books, cups and other things or turn on/off lights, open/close drawers and a few other little things. There are a couple of “puzzles” which are in the form of a combination lock where you have to find out the combination in order to open certain things. If you can’t seem to find the combinations, it generally means you aren’t looking properly or you haven’t gotten far enough yet. You can find cassette tapes lying around the house, but I wouldn’t ignore them because you’re able to pick them up and slot them into cassette player to find out what’s on these cassettes! You might just find something important on them, so check them cassettes! It’s a very simple game with no real complicated challenges or difficult parts, it’s focus is on getting you through the story and having Kaitlin figure out where everyone has gone.
Overall, Gone Home is a jewel in a haystack. It’s exciting for a couple of days but after that, it’s what it is. It’s a game that makes you feel uncomfortable in this house, even though you know in your mind that nothing will pop out from the drawers to jump scare you. The story and need to find out the ending is something that will itch at you until you get there and when you do get there, you may or may not regret it, hopefully the latter! This has been a short review because it’s a very difficult game to talk about without giving anything away and because there’s only one game mechanic bar moving, I did my best to give my own opinion of my experience with Gone Home. I do recommend that you play it, but only if you are able to get it on sale because while it is a good game, paying £14.99 for a 2-3 hour game at max isn’t common.