Wot I Think: Gone Home

By John Walker on August 15th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

You will be more interested to read about Gone Home after you’ve played it. And it will be more interesting to write about after everyone has played it. Gone Home is a wonderful game, and one that is fundamentally reliant on its being approached with a clean slate. If this is enough to convince you to give it a go, then perfect. If not, read on and I’ll do my best to say as little as possible while relaying why it’s so compelling. Here’s wot I think:

Opening premises are safe. Let’s start there. You’re a 20 year old girl called Kaitlin, arriving to an unfamiliar family home after a year of travelling around Europe. Your family moved while you were away, to a surprisingly large mansion house, and you’re going there for the first time. Except no one’s home.

The very first thing you see, in the first-person adventure, is a note from your younger sister, Sam, taped to the front door. She’s appealing to you not to find out where she’s gone, but promises she’ll be home some day. From here on this is a game of simply exploring an unfamiliar house, filled with quite literally the familiar, piecing together the last year of your family’s lives.

It’s remarkable how little can be said of what this entails, despite its relative mundanity. But it’s the mundanity that makes Gone Home so damned special. It’s ordinary, recognisable, relatable. It’s a house, and we’ve been in those. It’s not a spaceship or government headquarters or battle-strewn desert. It’s a home.

But it’s a home that’s simultaneously peculiar, unknown, and distant. You’ve never been there before, and nor indeed has Katie. One of Gone Home’s most masterful moves is to allow you to share in this contemporaneous experience of known and unknown, safety and yet alienation. Why is no one home? How serious is the storm outside that seems to have taken the TV down? Where is Sam? What’s up with mum and dad?

Everything is learned through poking about. Drawers and cupboards can all be explored, items picked up and examined (and importantly, carefully put back where they came from, if that matters to you). Letters can be read, locked cabinets opened, personal effects rifled through. And throughout, key items will be accompanied by narration from your sister Sam.

That’s explained in the opening missive. Sam explains that since she’s always told her big sister everything, now that you’re away she’s going to write it all down in diary entries as if directed at you. It’s through these entries that perhaps the core story is told. But it’s just one of three main narratives that are there to be discovered, all of which are compelling.

The house is beautifully presented. Everything is superbly realised, capturing the game’s setting of 1995 without labouring the point. (The era is portrayed not through awkwardly placed headlines nor clumsy declarations of who is the president, etc, but rather through underground musical tastes, technology, and common sense.) Objects like cereal boxes are rendered with more care than the average game puts into an entire kitchen, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to be playing a game that remembers humans tend to need and use kitchens.

The other most outstanding feature is the representation of a teenage life. While slightly faltering at the very start, Sam is soon established as defiantly and brilliantly 16/17. Her passion, fire, and studious uninterest is incredibly honest in its telling, and all the more impressive since she’s never actually there. Her story is utterly gorgeous, so wonderfully allowing you to not only nostalgically reflect on that time in your own life, but crucially, empathise rather than patronise. It’s so often so easy, when remembering or observing teenage life, to condescend to the emotions and actions. To misunderstand that because you’ve forgotten the intensity of your feelings at the time, that they were in some way less valid or less real. Gone Home is a game that knows that feelings are real as they are experienced, and does not diminish them. And that’s a joy.

There is one area that’s deserving of criticism, but it’s hard to know how it could have been done better. It’s undeniable that in order to let you uncover the stories of the last year in chronological order, things do have to become a little contrived. Locked doors and hidden keys are the solution here, which is about as gamey as can be, and certainly incongruous with the defiantly non-gamey setting. You also do have to wonder why personal letters are left in easily discovered places, and indeed why year-old correspondence is still at the top of piles. I wish it were more easily dismissible, but when a game is so focused on reality, unreality does stick out rather. You’ll not be able to avoid thinking, “But… but why would that be there? Why would that door be locked?”

But this certainly wasn’t serious enough to impede on a uniquely engrossing game. Beyond finding the items you need to progress further through the house, nothing is obligatory here. You could emerge at the other end having missed swathes of your family’s tale, not learned various mysteries of the building, or not have pieced together various elements, were you not to explore every nook and drawer. The game’s lack of panic about ensuring you see and hear everything is refreshing, and in turn it gratifies to be rewarded with nuggets because you meticulously ransacked. (But then put everything back in place, surely?)

I presume you could race through the game in an hour if you were ridiculous enough. It took me three or four, and I absolutely adored it. It’s touching, unsettling, deeply honest, and enormously compassionate. Which is a word you far too rarely get to use of games.

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126 Comments »

  1. honky mcgee says:

    Hooray for the absence of space marines, vikings & soldiers!

    Very well written review. Thank you Sir.

  2. Crimsoneer says:

    I’m excited for this, but not quite sure it’s worth the entry price just yet. New Dishonored DLC is nearly half the price. I feel shallow.

    • FriendlyNeighbourhoodMurderer says:

      I have played both the Dishonored DLC and Gone Home. This game will leave a lasting impression on you. (or well… At least a longer lasting impression).
      When I finished, I thought it was too short, but that was mostly just me wanting to have more of that brilliant storytelling. I also gifted a copy on Steam to a friend at once.

  3. lokimotive says:

    I am moving cross (American) country in less than half a week and neither have the money nor the time to play this. I would really appreciate it if no one talk about it at all. Thank you.

  4. JR says:

    Between Dear Esther, Dream, and now Gone home, I an loving the sudden revival of first-person, Myst-like exploration games.

    • John Walker says:

      There’s *nothing* Myst-like about this! And I’ll slap you and challenge you to a duel for saying so.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        Nice to see you stick up for Myst for once, John. Sometimes I still miss the era where the puzzle games were pre-rendered beauties rather than those unsightly polygonal things. Even with today’s ludicrous polygon counts, it still leaves me feeling empty inside.

        • John Walker says:

          I think you might have slightly misinterpreted my angle here : )

          Gone Home is amazing, which is the first of the reasons it’s nothing like Myst.

          • S Jay says:

            Yeah, Myst is just terrible.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            Sorry about that, I couldn’t resist yanking your chain.

            Your criticism of Myst basically amounts to “it is too hard”, and I do understand your bitterness when newborn babies like me are doing what you cannot.

            It was not always that way though. I first played Myst when I was about nine, and got so frustrated that I wowed never to play it again. Fast forward another nine years, and it was the best game ever. Funny how that works. I’ve since started enjoying games that force you to pay attention and take notes, and hated the constant dumbing down of the media.

            That all being the way it is, I’m worried Gone Home is too simple and menial for me, and as such I wouldn’t enjoy it.

          • PoulWrist says:

            It’s always funny to meet people who think that Myst are one of the greatest games ever :p like this one person I met once, He was all “Myst is one of the most important games ever made, the mixture of gameplay and storyline is sublime and has never been bested” etc.. Myst is bloody terrible. The end.

        • Harlander says:

          “pre-rendered beauties”

          You’re not talking about the original Myst, then…

          • Faxmachinen says:

            Obviously. Riven, Exile and Revelation are the pretty ones, and I wouldn’t recommend playing the original Myst to anyone. RealMyst is a decent replacement if you want to play the entire series.

            John’s criticisms of the graphics are not really fair though, seeing as everything looked like ass back in 1993.

      • 9of9 says:

        Sadly, I shall have to take you up on that duel, Mister Walker. While I dare not argue that any of the Myst games are as good in the same ways as Gone Home, obviously, the ‘compassionate’ element – not the first-person puzzle solving, but that gameplay element of learning about characters through the world they inhabited and the writings they left behind is the very element that made the Myst games so memorable. Let’s not forget that the climax of every Myst game is always about character judgement – not an extra-elaborate puzzle. I think a lot of that comes from similar places as Gone Home.

    • waltC says:

      I see I was beaten to the punch, but was about to say that a 3-4 hour game is not remotely “Myst-Like”…;)

    • Freud says:

      So this is a myst play game?

  5. FionaSarah says:

    One of the best games to come out for years, everyone should play Gone Home.

  6. rpsKman says:

    I don’t understand, how does the concept of defiance have to do with all of this?

  7. LionsPhil says:

    …allowing you to not only nostalgically reflect on that time in your own life…

    I think John’s hit middle age.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Or, you know, his early-to-mid thirties.

    • His Divine Shadow says:

      and an unusually gung ho endorsement, considering that. John’s typically more grumpy.

      • John Walker says:

        I want to pretend to myself that this is a joke. But it isn’t, is it? Do we need to paste the list of my positive reviews again? Can you just read the Saints Row 4 and Papers, Please ones from this week alone? Pleeeeeeeeeease?

        • magos says:

          Granted, it’s unfair where reviews are concerned, but surely the grumpy appellation stands generally?

          • Tom De Roeck says:

            Actually, it seems that John is just most vocal when its about shit topics, by which I mean topics that shouldnt exist aka any form of discrimination. hence you think he seems grumpy.

          • magos says:

            No, its just, as an avid Rum Doings listener, I seem to recall John being called grumpy numerous times. Why does every other comment of RPS have to devolve into the usual right-on circlejerk?

          • botonjim says:

            John tends to be a lot more grumpy with games that require any kind effort to get through or have a high chance of “failure”. If he put out that list (and we compared it with the other list) you’d see what I mean.

            Wonderful writer but he does have a low tolerance for frustration, and getting lower all the time.

          • S Jay says:

            Am I the only person who *never* looks who wrote what in RPS?

          • jrodman says:

            As a gamer who is very uninterested in frustration, I find transparency about these aspects of games a refreshing change from the usual attitudes. It’s all too common to encounter the groupthink of “if you don’t love difficulty, you’re pathetic”. Even among reviewers.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            S Jay, no, I’m mostly the same. Although occasionally I notice I generally accept that the will of the hive mind was behind all the words :)

        • His Divine Shadow says:

          it was mostly just a pun, really

      • Gassalasca says:

        I still remember his ever so slightly undeserved praise for Dragon Age.
        So, in light of this, I think we need a list of John’s lukewarm articles, in which he is neither gushing about a game nor being grumpy about following someone’s bottom or being made to hate women.

      • Saul says:

        John always seemed like the loveliest to me.

  8. Sinky says:

    There’s a word for a 20 year old girl: Woman

    And now i’m going to go and play the game.

    • RedViv says:

      You can very well be a girl of twenty years. Many games cater to, and find, boys of all ages. I don’t think it’s so absurd to call a protagonist still on the journey to find themselves their respective child term.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        I think the point is that a phrase like “20 year-old boy” doesn’t come up nearly as frequently, and when it does, it’s usually purposefully diminutive, while people often don’t think twice about referring to grown young women as “girls.”

        And now, rage:

        • LionsPhil says:

          YARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            [Nods and lifts cup of tea approvingly]

            Superb breath control.

        • NathanH says:

          “Girl” is the opposite of more words than “boy”, which makes things confusing. Pretty much whatever you choose there’ll be a set of people who’ll be happy, a set of people who’ll be unhappy, and a large set of people who don’t give a shit, so you probably can say whatever you like.

        • Amun says:

          I use the word “girl” as the female version of “guy”. Maybe that makes me a sexist monster… I really don’t know. =(

    • PopeRatzo says:

      There’s a word for a 20 year old girl: Woman

      As the father of daughters, I can say it really depends on the person. And yes, a lot of 20 year-old young men can be referred to as “boys”.

      It depends, not least of all, on context. To an 80 year-old, a 20-something can easily be a “boy” or “girl”.

      And you don’t really want to be the guy who goes around enforcing language rules, based upon your own concept of political correctness. Even when done with the best intentions, it comes around and bites you in the end.

    • John Walker says:

      Anyone under the age of 30 is a newborn baby.

    • dropbear81 says:

      Yes indeed. To even the scales, I shall now refer to all my male friends as boys.

  9. Turkey says:

    I swear I remember Steve Gaynor talking about a optional mode that lets you play the game without any locked off areas.

    Anyway it would be kinda hard to build tension if you ran into the ghost straight away, so I kinda get why they gate you off.

  10. nimzy says:

    Is that a mixtape? In the year 2013?

    • RedViv says:

      It’s a mixtape on the 7th of June 1995.

    • astroscope says:

      Not so unusual since, as the review makes clear, it’s set in 1995. Since you mention it though the mixtape has made a visible comeback this year despite the shortcomings of tapes being evident to everyone.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        As low-budget indie games that are fantastic should have clearly demonstrated to everyone by now, sometimes the limitations of a particular form of media are a good thing. I think from the standpoint of “how we consume music”, there isn’t really a popular contemporary alternative to making mixtapes for people.

  11. db1331 says:

    What’s that big rectangular thing in the first pic?

    • Turkey says:

      I believe it’s something called a cassettual tape. They used to rub them together to start fires and scare away wooly mammoths.

      • RedViv says:

        We used them to fish for ichtyosauri, way before apes became so cool. Get off my lawn.

        • Alexander says:

          I used them as a pen support. (god, I hope someone gets this.)

          • Johnny Nagasaki says:

            Haha ! Yessir, I was 15-16 in the year 1995. And pens became very handy for rewinding your tape into the spool when tape got snagged in the cassette player!

          • dropbear81 says:

            And then cassette player chewed your tape, right on your favourite song. Oh god no!

  12. Stellar Duck says:

    Just finished it and I loved it. I may have taken too little time to really soak it all up but I was just that into it.

    It was sweet, passionate and thoughtful I found and it had a tender pain in it as well. Caught the feelings of that age very well. Made me nostalgic as hell!

  13. lowprices says:

    Just finished this now, and it’s a lovely thing. Like Dear Esther, except interesting and likeable. I won’t spoil it, but Sams story got me right here, in the withered, blackened spot where my heart should be. Play it. Play it now.

    EDIT: On a side note, Amnesia almost ruined this game for me. Even though I knew [edit edit], for the first few minutes every new, dark room was terrifying, and I found myself rushing to the light switch.

  14. Commander Gun says:

    Sounds good. 17 euro seems a bit steep for a few hours of play (yes i know, compared to a visit to the cinema, etc, etc), but i’m sure it’ll be in an Indie sale in a couple of months and i’ll be sure to pick it up then :)

  15. Hodge says:

    Aaaand of course they’ve released this just as I’m coming into the busiest week of my year. Redshirt will be next, just you wait and see.

    *bookmarks review to return to in a fortnight’s time*

  16. Eight Rooks says:

    Blew through it in a single sitting, taking about two hours, according to Steam. I didn’t feel like I was rushing, and I’m relatively sure I saw just about everything, though I do read very fast.

    I liked it. A lot. It’s no masterpiece, IMO, and I think it will be praised as much for what it represents as for what it actually is (though you could argue to a degree those two things overlap somewhat). It’s fairly obviously the work of a tiny team: “The house is beautifully presented. Everything is superbly realised”… uh, not so much, IMO – it’s kinda clunky in places, and the story/stories are fairly simple and easy to predict ahead of time. At the same time, it is absolutely lovely, a pleasure to play and the emotions underneath it all, now they’re frequently superbly done. In particular,

    It’s so often so easy, when remembering or observing teenage life, to condescend to the emotions and actions. To misunderstand that because you’ve forgotten the intensity of your feelings at the time, that they were in some way less valid or less real.

    This, this, this, mister Walker, my God, this: I am fed up to the back teeth with the sheer number of books, films, anything painting everything people get up to in their teens as “Oh my God, how can kids be so stupid, don’t they know anything, it’s okay, they’ll wise up in time” etc., etc. It is nauseating. Gone Home is one of the few pieces of creative media I’ve experienced recently to allow that teenagers can be stupid, impetuous, self-centred and all the rest of it but also brave, determined, courageous, thoughtful and you’re damn right compassionate at the same time. It’s easily one of the strongest facets of the writing and what made me tear up as much as the actual plot, maybe more.

    Not the best release this year by a long shot, then, but still very special, and something anyone who is the least bit interested in storytelling in games should play. Glad it’s finally out, and very grateful it got made.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Now that I’ve had a bit of time to think, it reminded me quite a bit of the feeling I got when I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower recently. The passion, the insecurity, the depth of feeling, the arrogance and the preposterous and life affirming hubris of being young, in love and figuring out where the limits are or if they exist. That’s what this game is about for me and I laud it for doing it!

  17. Michael Fogg says:

    This would be more interesting if she started to find bodyparts of her folks stuffed in cereal boxes and finally confronted a psycho murderer hiding under her sister’s bed.

  18. kael13 says:

    I completed this about an hour ago. Then I realised I never found the combination to the safe. Now I feel like I’ve missed something good.

    *SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER BELOW*

    Did anyone find out what happened to that Oscar fellow?

    • braaaaains says:

      I feel like I combed the place pretty thoroughly and all I could find bout what happened to Oscar was a newspaper clipping that said his pharmacy was changing owner and that he was sick…? So maybe that’s how he died?

      • Courtney says:

        *Mild Spoiler*

        The combo to the safe is actually rather easy to find, and even likely to be found before you find the safe. I didn’t even realize I had seen it until sometime after having found the safe. But the game does not indicate in any way that it is the combination, doesn’t go into your inventory or anything like that.

        As for Oscar, I feel like I understand what was going on there and it’s arguably more tragic and less expected than the primary story line. Though they never come right out and tell you what happened.

        • onodera says:

          *SPOILERS AHOY*
          I understood the letter to his sister to mean that he was gay, but was not able to come to terms with that due to his more old-fashioned upbringing, so he turned to drugs. This also explains the lack of children and his nephew inheriting the mansion.

          • Quinus says:

            I think this is right, but Terrance and Oscar have a relationship that is a little more complicated than first appears. SPOILERS.

            Under the false bottom in the drawer of Terry’s office desk, you can find a letter from Oscar. It has been ripped up and then taped back together. The file cabinet shows that three days after sending the letter, Oscar bequeathed the mansion to Terry. I presume this is why Terry taped the letter back up. But why would he have torn it up in the first place? Note that Oscar says that he hasn’t seen Terry for ten years, which means that when Terry had his height marked in the basement, at age 12 in 1963, that was the last time that they saw each other. (It seems they had Thanksgiving every year in the mansion until that point). The year was important enough that Oscar made it the combination to his safe.

            I think that Oscar probably molested Terry in 1963. This is why Terry ripped up the letter (before accepting the mansion for financial reasons), why Oscar refers to himself as a wretch and has had no contact with his family, why the Thanksgiving dinners ended in 1963, and why Terry is so terrified of his daughter’s relationship with Lonnie. Also, note that his novels are about someone going back in time to 1963 and changing time to prevent a catastrophe. (This makes Terry’s father’s criticisms of his novel take on a new light: his father complained that they were insufficiently personal. But the stereo reviewer chastised Terry for being unable to write in an impersonal manner.)

            Here’s something that I missed: Terry’s father’s face was cut out of the portrait in the basement. Where was the missing face, and who cut it out? I presume it could be discovered somewhere else in the house.

            I’m also curious about the W.R. who appeared to have owned in house before Oscar and who used it for bootlegging, or at least bought illegal hooch. There is an order for booze during the prohibition period in the woodroom.

          • onodera says:

            @Quinus
            Wow, I’ve missed a lot of stuff in the game.

  19. magos says:

    SPOILERS AHOY!

    Just finished – took two hours, so the paupers/skinflints might want to take note of the cost-per-minute here.

    On one side, this is a beautiful (seriously, just beautiful) analysis of teenage infatuation – something many people have been through and, as John mentioned, is somewhat devalued. Myself, I’d argue it’s a thing a lot of us spend half our lives reconciling with our adult selves – something that is thrown into negative-sharp contrast with the parental subplot.

    The writing of the protagonist, Sam, is pretty much pitch perfect, helped in no small amount by some excellent voice acting. Watching a burgeoning relationship grow between two utterly convincing characters is always a pleasure, and it’s great to see this kind of thing finally reach gaming.

    Flipping the coin, when your entire hook is predicated on ‘what has happened to everyone?’, having your story finish with everyone basically running away from home for a while is a bit of a cop-out. The peals of thunder and flickering lights used to give the impression of atmosphere are poor window-dressing for such a dis-satisfactory denouement.

    On top of this, the ending, such as it is, leaves us with a pretty callow message: ‘sexuality is pretty difficult, isn’t it? But it’ll probably all work out in the end.’ Somehow, I just don’t think this is enough, given the fact the game wears its heart on its sleeve so blatantly at other stages of play.

    But hey. Bioshock Infinite made shed a tear numerous times. The prologue of The Last of Us made me flat out cry. But these were manipulative experiences: melodrama through and through. Gone Home made me feel things I’d forgotten I’d ever felt, and more importantly, it felt *real* in doing so.

    And let us not forget, it achieved this through the primary mechanic of picking up bits of rubbish in an abandoned house. So yeah, buy this game.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Eh, we can play the “X is better/affected me more than Y” game until we all die of old age, but I’m struggling to think of any point Bioshock Infinite got to me – I’m still baffled by how people felt any real emotional attachment to Elizabeth. And The Last of Us was no more manipulative than Gone Home, for the most part – the attic was powerful stuff, but nothing compared to the gut-wrenching nausea of the end of the university building in The Last of Us, or what happens after you give Ellie the rifle, or the first gang of scavengers, or I could go on, and on…

      Gone Home is a lovely, wonderful little piece of work, and undeniably vitally important in a look-why-aren’t-more-games-like-this sense. It’s also a janky, lo-fi, simplistic point-and-click made by a tiny team who are visibly struggling the whole way to create something that lives up to their vaulting ambitions. Yes, it’s somewhat unfair to whale on it too harshly for lack of time, or funds, or whatever… but while the emotions it evokes have stuck with me, and will probably stick with me for a while, I can’t imagine myself ever playing it again, and that’s not meant as a compliment.

  20. Birdie says:

    Just finished.
    I enjoyed it, and I adored the environment, but in all honesty I found putting together the subplots around the two parents a lot more fun and more interesting than the main Sam plot, mostly because I guessed where the Sam plot was going within five minutes of starting the game. What was going on with the parents – the father’s writing career and their marital problems – was left up to you to put together from various pieces of evidence (rather than handed to you like the voice diaries) and I found it much more rewarding. The Sam plot never really interested me until it got sad and angsty near the end.
    Anyway, off to replay and see if I can get that damn safe open.

    • Birdie says:

      Got the safe open. Intriguing if not all that explanatory.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      But neither of their subplots was particularly complicated, and indeed they were both pretty much handed to you by the time you’d reached a certain point. You could fill in the blanks for yourself, yes, rather than listening to voiceovers, but there really weren’t that many blanks to fill in.

      • Birdie says:

        You certainly have a point, and my ‘figuring it out on my own’ turned out to be due to me missing key items. When I went back to open the safe I did a little more digging and found a few letters that made the mother’s subplot much more explicit than I thought it was – the same might apply to Terry’s. Finding the letters was a little disappointing, since I’d been feeling very proud of myself for putting it all together without any obvious evidence and then suddenly it was all handed to me on a platter, and the only reason I’d had to figure it out on my own was because I hadn’t been looking hard enough.

  21. Quasar says:

    *******SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY********

    *******REALLY STOP NOW********

    Just finished it myself. Never before has a game made me feel physically sick – it took a real force of will to get up the attic stairs, especially after finding the ouija board and the pentagram room. The closest I’ve ever felt to that was towards the end of Bishock: Infinite, when Elizabeth is taken away; that feeling of knowing that something horrible has happened, and being powerless to do anything about it.

    The ending came as a huge relief, although I admit that I completely failed to listen to the voicemail messages until after I’d finished the game. Hearing them in the light of everything else, there’s a noticeable hint of joy in there.

    I’ve got to join in with the praise of the writing and voice acting, too. Pitch perfect. The game’s ability to make a heterosexual British male empathise with a character that is in so many ways my complete opposite is fantastic.

    I could go on for ages. But instead I’m going to get all of my friends and make them play this.

    • scottyjx says:

      Yup. Physically sick. That’s exactly how it felt when I was about to go up into the attic. I was terrified of the potentially dark ending.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Ditto, and I don’t think a teenage character resonated with me so strongly since reading Sue Townsend when I was 13 3/4*

      I think I shall use this game to find out which of my friends have souls, and which don’t.

      *Ok, there was also Buffy, but that was a different sort of resonance.

    • Kala says:

      Yes this.

      ****SPOILERS****

      (well not really a spoiler of something that DOES happen, a spoiler of something that DOESN’T happen…)

      I was worried sick I’d get to the attic to find she’d hung herself while the parents were away, and that she didn’t want Kate to go to the attic to be confronted with her body. I was torn between getting up there and rushing through to confirm this was not the case, and stopping to read notes. Fortunately, I stopped to read notes, which explained what had happened and came as an absurd relief.

  22. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    I’m going to get this game, rifle through everything and not put them back in their proper places.

    FEEL THE PAIN, WALKER-SAN.

  23. posiduck says:

    ******SPOILERS********

    About your criticism of some rooms being locked, and why are various letters strewn about: I took it that things were all strewn about because Sam and Lonnie ransacked the place for things they could sell (hence all the missing vcrs and laserdisc players). I assume that things got all thrown around then, and neatly piled papers wound up haphazardly thrown about. And the rooms that were locked were the ones that Sam didn’t want her parents to get into.

    • manitoo says:

      Good call. I was wondering why the parents’ room was in complete disarray.

      For my part, I adored Gone Home. A lot of comments have noted the jankiness and how contrived some elements are. Fair enough. But it’s an amazing thing in 2013 to release a game that doesn’t have a gun pasted to the bottom right quadrant of the screen. Doubly so if the main story of that game is about the sexual awakening of a teenage girl. I really, really hope that Gone Home is successful and spurs more developers to explore themes beyond mass murder.

  24. PikaBot says:

    I just finished this game and I thought I did a pretty thorough job of it, but reading these comments has made me realize that there’s all manner of things I completely overlooked.

    There really is that much to this game. And a lot – not all, but a lot – of it is utterly optional. I like that.

  25. Branthog says:

    Being from Portland, myself, I really want to play this and soak up the atmosphere. Unfortunately, I can’t really see myself parting with $20 USD for it. Especially compared to all the other stuff $20 can get me right now on Steam.

    I’ll support these guys and buy a copy, but not until it is on a steep sale. In fact, I’ll probably wait until it’s on one of those crazy Steam sales and buy $20 worth of copies, giving the rest away.

  26. Azradesh says:

    Just a little PSA. The game is cheaper in the UK if you buy it straight off the devs site.

    http://www.gonehomegame.com/

    £11.51.

  27. Winged Nazgul says:

    Ha! The very reason I bought and played Gone Home as soon as it was available instead of waiting for the obvious Steam sale was because I knew the whole Internet was going to be rife with spoilers before too long and I wanted an experience sans spoilers very much.

    With that said, here’s something very SPOILERIFIC:

    —————————————————————————-
    Has anyone figured out yet where all the VCR’s went off to?

    • posiduck says:

      ******SPOILERS**********

      Sam and Lonnie stole them, presumably to sell so they’d have some money when they ran off together. Sam wrote Kate a note (near the main entrance to the basement, I think) telling her to apologize to Mom and Dad for the stuff that was missing.

  28. Wednesday says:

    Y’know, your “spoiler warning” was pretty useless considering the Respond to our Jibber panel doesn’t register the spaces your made.

  29. Killstof says:

    I don’t understand all of the hyperbolic praise. The game was fine. Just fine. The 3-4 hours you get out of it if you turn over every bottle of salad dressing don’t justify the almost-$20.00 price tag, imo. Wait for it to be half-off during the holiday sale or something.

    • Kala says:

      I do agree with the price tag vs time investment point, but the praise is deserved because there’s very little out there doing what this game does.

  30. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Good game, need to ignore my daughter more to get through it though.

  31. drvoke says:

    Just finished the game. Oh god, those feels. The story, in a basic sense, isn’t anything to get really excited over, but the presentation is just remarkable. I would normally say a game with this amount of content would be hard to justify at $20, but everything is really professional. Everyone who made this game, from the voice actor(s, but mainly the Sarah who voiced Sam) to the artists and level designers, obviously worked really hard to deliver a professional experience, so it’s quality over quantity.

    I was really deeply moved, which I promise does not happen often. For any kind of media, but (unfortunately) especially games. I could seriously go on for pages (I just deleted a bunch of words) about how this succeeds from a storytelling standpoint, but calling it an “expertly crafted interactive narrative” both neatly sums up and totally obscures what makes it work. It’s just something that needs to be experienced.

  32. engion3 says:

    Doors are too wide, ruined the whole game for me.

  33. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Although I’m very much a “games are art” person and this is very much a work of art. I will forever agonize over whether or not it is a “game” :)

    But that makes no difference to how amazing it is. Wowzers.

    Also, those of us who were about the same age as Sam in 1995, there’s a heap of bonus feels here just for us.

  34. granderojo says:

    I think the game is told exceptionally well, specifically an exceptionally well told coming-of-age story. Which isn’t a new for games. Fallout 3 and Mass Effect 2 tried their hand at this, not nearly as well. Also, honestly I was more attached to the story between the mother and father. All this said, I don’t think it’s an ‘important’ game as many are saying. It did what it was supposed to do as a story and that’s all we should ask of it.

  35. NoTanFightFan says:

    I was very disappointed with this game when I finished it. It kept me intrigued until the end, but I kept waiting for that moment when I was going to be shocked by something in the story, or something crazy would happen, or I would be reunited with someone, and that moment just never came. At the end, I felt like I had wasted the last few hours completely. Just so much potential here, but the story wound up being just blah at the end. Nothing interesting. Was I supposed to celebrate the ending? IDK what the devs thought my reaction would be. But it was one of disappointment. All the horror stuff in the game lead no where. Just, blah. I didn’t leave the game satisfied.

    I would like to see mods made for this game, like with Amnesia, and let someone else tell a better story. The design was great, chasing the story was intriguing, the end result was meh.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Voigt-Kampff is sitting at his monitor, scratching his chin, going “huh, so if I…”.

    • dropbear81 says:

      But that’s the beauty of it. It’s not Amnesia, and it never promised to be. The potential? Well, it could have gone down the horror storyline, but then it would just be an Amnesia knock-off, and I would have tuned out immediately. The strength of this game is that it is different from most games on the market.

    • jaguar skills says:

      You know that guy who did the dear Esther speed run?

      That’s you, that is.

      • puggy says:

        No, I don’t think that’s fair. I found the story utterly entrancing, but I’m baffled as to why the game spent so much effort in making me feel that it was going to be a horror game. I have such a mixed response to the game, because it seems to have an identity crisis. The first half is incredibly creepy, but that creepy atmosphere has nothing to do with the actual story arc. I don’t really understand the point of misleading the player in that way – it’s as if the devs didn’t really have faith that the story (and substories) were interesting enough on their own. And yet they were totally engrossing, without needing thunderstorms or the ‘psycho house’ story.

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