[Review] Gone Home (PC)

Imagine coming home after being away overseas for a year, expecting to see your family, only to be welcomed with a messy empty house and a note on the door that says, “Don’t look for me.” Sounds heavy, doesn’t it? Certainly not what Kate Greenbriar was expecting to find when she arrived at the doorstep of her family home in the game Gone Home, Fullbright’s awesome adventure game I played on PC last weekend.

Gone Home is part mystery, part adventure, part scavenger hunt, and all fun. You play as Kate, a young woman who has just returned home after a year in Europe. She is unfamiliar with the house as her family moved into it while she was away. Like Kate, you too are experiencing this home for the first time. Once inside, you lead Kate room by room, drawer by closet to piece together where her parents and sister went to. So far, all you know is that her sister, Sam, has run away, but where are her parents?

At first, I felt a sense of dread exploring through the house. Kate arrives to the home during a severe rain storm with the house lights off. I was half expecting to find bloody handprints, or a corpse. The game is a little creepy by nature: here, you are basically forced to pick through Kate’s family’s belongings to get to the truth of who these people are, where they are going…where they ultimately ended up. Going through the game, you soon discover the game is not trying to sabotage you or trying to fill you full of dread. I mean, you are able to turn on lights while searching (and leave them on!). The more you explore the house, the more you find out there is a heartbreaking back-story involving Kate’s sister, as well as Kate’s father (which I will not go into, because SPOILERS!). These stories are what make this game. It’s one thing having a game that encourages the player to rummage through sock drawers – I mean, that in itself may be game-worthy…but to have such a rich story go with it makes for an unforgettable game, one I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.

Gone Home is short – I finished it in under three hours – and is fairly easy to play. You lead Kate in first person through the house and you are given a map in case you get lost. There is little music, other than when Kate finds her sister’s cassettes lying about, and you have her pop one into the waiting tape player. For the most part, it’s the music of the house you hear (the fridge running, electricity running through the lights, creaking of the house), and Kate’s sister, Sam’s dialogue. The gameplay of Gone Home is solid, and looks great.

If you have thought of playing Gone Home, rest assured, it is well worth the time. I very much recommend it!

Gone Home
Developer: Fullbright Company
Released: 2013

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