Gone Home is a unique, one of a kind, exploration game which will have you on the edge of your seat in no-time. The game was originally produced and developed by The FullBright Company (the PC version) and was released in early 2013, however for the console edition which has been newly released early this year for the PS4 and Xbox One a new company, called Majesco Entertainment, they have not changed the game in the slightest though which is a bonus because the game is excellent, both on PC and console. You are put in the position of Kaitlin, a girl who has returned off vacation to come home to find that no one is in the house. You have to find out where your family have gone, even though you will quickly realise that you are mainly looking for your sister, Samantha.
These recordings have a significance to the story of the game but they are more of an insight into your sister’s life.
Why is this game unique compared to other indie games? Gone Home is a first person exploration game, where you actually feel as if you are the character. The game itself provides a realistic experience with the way your character moves, you can only move at a walking pace and you are not able to sneak or run anywhere. Your character is able to inspect any of the objects that you pick up, for example, if you picked up a book you could turn it around and have a look at the back of it (you never know what you might find). Personally, one of the game’s features that makes it a unique game is the voice recordings that you acquire throughout by interacting with certain objects. These recordings have a significance to the story of the game but they are more of an insight into your sister’s life. This can be seen as a bad concept because you seem to become more emotionally attached to the sister rather than Kaitlin (the character you are playing as).
The effect of the weather in this game was perfect.
Another realistic feature about the game is the fact that when you enter the house all of the lights are off, this might seem like a small feature but it truly makes the game that bit more realistic. You have to find each light switch to turn the lights on around the house and even though it may sound ridiculous, the light switches are in realistic places. Rather than them being across the room they are usually situated where they would be in any ordinary house in every room. Having to turn the lights on in this game, does provide are more realistic feel because when you enter a new room you want to turn the light on to see where you are going, also because entering a new room for the first time gets you on the edge of your seat because you expect something to jump out at you at any moment. In addition to this, when looking at certain objects, writing will appear over the object. After this happening a couple of times I realised that these are the thoughts of Kaitlin. This to me was a great aspect of the game because it gives you a personal feel to the protagonist.
Gone Home isn’t anything that is visually stunning, but the graphics are good enough to play the game. You shouldn’t expect much in terms of graphics anyway, after all you are only in a house and not exploring a forest or a beautiful landscape. The effect of the weather in this game was perfect, the sound of the storm was loud and clear for you to be able to hear on the ground and first floor, but the sound wasn’t as clear when you went into the basement. I’m not complaining about that at all, it is great that it becomes quitter while you are in the basement because it makes it seem more realistic; when your in your house you don’t clearly hear a storm if you are in a basement, do you? Also the thunder and lightening is frequent but it appears to be heard when you interact with key events in the game.
However, with every great game there is a couple of things that are not so great. The first thing that started to frustrate me was that you wondered aimlessly at the start, you find out that 2 of the 4 doors downstairs are locked and the only 2 rooms you can go into have nothing of importance, so you continue upstairs. You go into each room and eventually you will start to get an idea where you need to go, from gathering codes for safes to keys and to pieces that add secret locations to your map. I found that after finally getting the pieces to fit together I went into a secret location and I was back upstairs. To me the game was in need of at least some subtle instructions or a clearer idea of where to start off to get the game going. But once you start to get an idea of where to go you get captivated by the story and then before you know it you are near the end of the game. There was only one other problem which I had noticed as well, when you go through one of the locked doors, the opposite side of the room is extremely dark then when you walk one step it automatically turns bright, and it couldn’t have been a shadow of your character as it was at the opposite side of the room. Even though it was a small thing, it became irritable every time I walked past the doorway.
There was one feature of the game that stood out amongst any other I have played before. When you start you get an option called Modifiers, this option was surprising to me as I have never seen anything like this before, especially at the start of a game. As you can see below these options will change the way the game is played, removing any suspense by having the lights kept on and being able to discover more about the game with the director’s commentary enabled. Finally, the most important option is that all the doors will be unlocked, this allows you to explore the house to any extent and how you want, also if you need to get to a certain area quicker to unlock a safe or to explore then you can activate this option.
Gone Home is a great game with an amazing story that captivates you immediately. The game does require some thinking of where to go next and a lot of checking of your map to figure out where the secret locations are. The game provides a good atmosphere to play in and the instant feeling of a suspense horror gets you on the edge of your seat from the second you start playing. Even though the game is far from a suspense horror there is still an aspect of horror, you just have to be aware of your surroundings and the story to notice it. The game itself doesn’t have many flaws apart from the ones I had mentioned earlier.