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Gone Home

By on June 11, 2016

gone homeThe lovely people at PS Plus have decided to give this game away for free this month and I’m glad they did.

In Gone Home you play Katie, the eldest daughter of a family of four who has come back from a long trip abroad to find her house empty. It’s the middle of the night – and there is a storm outside … creeeeeeepy!

This is one of the more interesting (albeit short) ‘walking simulators’ whereby all you do is walk around, look at things, listen to excerpts from your sister’s diary and figure out what the hell is going on.

Strangely, for something on paper seems quite boring – the idea that you get to peek around everybody’s private belongings, that you find the mysteries behind the house itself and even throwing in a bit of the supernatural, means that you’re constantly intrigued.

There are a few red herrings sure, and the actual result is a more emotional tale about people you don’t even meet in the game – but yet you end up feeling a deep emotional attachment to. That’s mainly because you feel these people have opened up to you – but in a completely passive way. The game doesn’t hit you around the head with what you should be feeling, instead it gives out hints and lets you make the connections. By all means, you could completely miss some emotional beats just by not looking around more effectively.

By having the game do this, it means you are actively making connections, putting yourself in their place and actually, I understand some people’s criticisms about the younger sister being the main focus – yet the least interesting character. This may be because the game plays you her audio from a journal as you play the game – therefore making the connection for you and not letting you relate to her as actively as you may the others.

They also string you along on different routes (much like Firewatch which was heavily influenced by this game – to the point where the books of the Dad appear within that game – and the fact the mother works for a forestry organisation), you come to the game with a sense of unease, that you are going to find something extraordinary as you know you are playing a game. A note about a creepy old schoolfriend, a mysterious inheritance, secret passages, ghost hunting, affairs, all of these things create a huge arc of mini-arcs – all of which become nicely tied up at the end. In fact, the surprising linearity of the game, though giving you near-free roam of a house, means that you actually go through the story in an intentional manner – but in the belief that you can go and do what you want.

It’s not an incredible game, but it’s an important game. It turns gaming on its head slightly, it subverts your expectations of it, and yet pleases you with a satisfying story – all with the most minimal of features.

I highly recommend taking 2-3 hours out of your day to play this and hey – it’s free! (For now…)

Rating: 8/10

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