Gone Home (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 12.12.2015 3

Review for Gone Home on PC

The 'walking simulator' is not an inherently bad choice of game design as the likes of The Stanley Parable have shown. However, it seems that Gone Home, widely noted for its controversy and stance on lesbianism, took a look at this set-up and decided that the proper response was to release a walking simulator - one in which far too little effort is placed into anything other than its narrative.

There are several things that make a 'game' a 'game.' One of these things is a sense and degree of agency. Even in a visual novel type affair, the player is allowed to make various choices, suffer the consequences of those choices, and the game is centred upon said choices. Even in a simple title with no plot, this still holds true. Gone Home, however, decided to look at this and threw away all semblance of gameplay in favour of focusing on a character who is not the player and their own, personal, story. The result is something with only the bare minimum of 'gameplay,' dwarfed in challenge by children's games and whose only focus is upon the narrative of another character entirely.

Gone Home is the story of Generic Girl #957 (Katie) coming back to her family's new house after a year abroad only to find that her sister, Generic Girl #958 (Sam), has gone missing and run off with her lover, and the entire adventure is then focused on finding various audio logs around the house retelling #958's life over the year that #957 was away. Right off the bat the gameplay is simply non-existent. Namely, it consists entirely of walking through the house, picking up everything to see. If there is a note hidden somewhere, listen to it - and if there is, continue to repeat in another room. Almost all of these notes are obvious in where they are located and the scarce few that are even somewhat hidden are still not hard to find at all. The only things that even remotely resemble a 'game' are figuring out #958's locker number, figuring out a safe combo (which is actually optional), and knocking a ball out of the rafters (also optional).

Screenshot for Gone Home on PC

Instead, Gone Home's 'strength' is focused entirely upon its narrative. It is not a good narrative, though. It, instead, focuses on #958's love life and how she is coping with moving to a new place, as well as her feelings regarding women. It is entirely obvious as to what the story will be and its outcome from the moment the first mention of this girl is made and the concept of 'a plot twist' is simply too high and beyond what Gone Home is capable of to even be slightly worthwhile. Instead of #958's romantic life, there is far more interest in the story of her father's underwhelming writing, obsession with JFK, and struggle to try and get his books published, as well as her mother's work as a wildlife conversationalist, and even the potentiality of the house being haunted by someone named 'Oscar.' All of these things hold no significance to the tale in the end and are utterly meaningless compared to #958's narrative.

Rather than showing #958 maybe interacting with her father, having him deal with his daughter clearly being more of a capable writer than him, or even simple conversations with her parents, the events are entirely focused on #958. Even #957, the character the player is supposed to be, has her traits only known via looking around the house and noting that she is, basically, the model student. This is actually more interesting than #957's narrative because there is the chance to see if #957 actually did anything unique, as opposed to #958's obvious plot-line.

Screenshot for Gone Home on PC

Cubed3 Rating

1/10
Rated 1 out of 10

Awful

The sole reason to play Gone Home is because of its message. Putting that aside, it is simply little more than moving throughout a house and reading small snippets of text/listening to audio logs. It is not fun. It barely constitutes a game and, while not as offensive or painful as some other titles, is more hampered by its medium more than anything else. Maybe as a book or movie this would have been fine but, as a game, it is merely a waste of time. Those interested in its message are fine in overlooking it to support it, but as a game… it is simply terrible.

Developer

The Fullbright Company

Publisher

The Fullbright Company

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  1/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

10/10 review 

Insanoflex said:
10/10 review 

Thank you. I am trying my best. If people like Gone Home's message and/or feel it should be played regardless, that's fine. Just... I am doing my best to review it as a game and nothing more.

Edit: Also, ideas for potential plot twists that didn't happen.

1) Sam's girlfriend doesn't exist and is, instead, a mental construct made by her to cope with her budding sexuality along with her fears of moving to a new place. Could even retain the pro-lesbian message as it's about her learning to come out instead of running away.

2) The house is ACTUALLY haunted and a sizable chunk of their time is spent trying to flush out the ghost and that's what actually draws them together as friends.

3) Sam tries to help her father with his work but either gets pushed away by her father who dismisses her more creative works as they lack JFK focus or her father tries to bond with her over the writing only to be constantly pushed back by Sam's choices and attempts to distance herself from her family.

But seriously, if you're character is going to leave her important notes lying around in places so obvious that her sister who doesn't even know the layout of the house can find them and not even bother to try and hide them away in some place that can only be reached by doing some sort of combination puzzle, clue investigation, or even trying to reveal invisible ink... don't be shocked if you get a 1.

( Edited 13.12.2015 03:42 by Snowtwo )

This reminds me of Dear Esther, which looked interesting and pretty, but I got bored after 10 minutes. If you're into books though, I can see it being much more entertaining, but for me, these types of experiences do nothing.

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