I’m a little late to the party on this game.
Set in 1995, “Gone Home” is about Kaitlin Greenbriar and her return home from overseas on a dark and stormy night. Arriving a little after midnight, Kaitlin reads a letter from her sister, Sam. It says Kaitlin should not to go looking for her. Walking in, the house is empty and Kaitlin explores seeing where everybody has gone.
With a story told in first-person view, Kaitlin explores the house, finding notes and letters, and uncovering what has happened in her absence. It’s almost paced like a film, guiding you linearly through the house with narration from Sam about what is happening in her life. Impatient players could rush through “Gone Home” in about an hour, but that’s not really the point. By rushing through, you’ll miss a lot of small subtle hints that make the story really fun to uncover.
Since a lot of the allure of “Gone Home” is the mystery around the story, I really don’t feel comfortable diving deep into its narrative, but I will say that the process of discovering what happened is very engaging and (I think) is one of the most well-told stories of the year.
One of the nicer bits of “Gone Home” is Sam’s mix tapes found in her room and in the basement featuring riot grrrl bands like Heavens to Betsy, Bratmobile, and The Youngins. It adds a bit more insight into Sam’s personality. It also helps that the songs are really good. After I was done playing, I looked up the discography of all three bands.
I think that the one downside of “Gone Home” is the price. Retailing for $19.99, it may be a bit too much for most people. It also doesn’t really help that the game doesn’t have a lot of replay value (outside of just revisiting the story). I wonder, though, how much differently I’ll perceive “Gone Home,” revisiting notes with a different eye.
After being disappointed with a fair amount of big budget games, “Gone Home” is a great palette cleanser. With current gaming focused online passes, multiplayer formats and giant experiences, “Gone Home” is a touching, well-paced story that presents another way gamers can experience a game.