Gone Home: Review
The house is unfamiliar to you, strange and mysterious in its grandeur. Lightning flickers in the windows, the panes shaken by the accompanying thunder, briefly drowning out the constant patter of rain drops on the glass.
You approach the door, and on it is a note from your little sister, Sam, warning you from exploring the house too thoroughly. She's gone, and she doesn't want to be found.
Thus does Gone Home, a new game by the Fullbright Company begin. You play as Katie Greenbriar, who is just arriving at her family's new home after traveling in Europe for a year. The year is 1995, and a lot has happened since you left.
In search of answers, you ignore Sam's pleas explore the dark hallways of this old, and worn mansion. Clues are presented by examining objects that are scattered about the house: a crumpled note in a waste basket or an audio cassette in a sock drawer begin to unfold what happened in your absence.
It's hard to really describe the game without going deep into spoiler territory, for the game is at its best when being explored for the first time without any real prior expectations or knowledge.
The storytelling presented within this gem of a game is almost unparalleled in the way it is able to construct full and rich lives for the three people that you left behind, using nothing but post it notes, scribbled letters, and concert ticket stubs. Aside from Sam's occasional narrated journal entries, the story is left entirely up to the player's own abilities to discern through the items scattered about.
Gone Home is a story that really could only be told through the lens of interactive media. While there is a certain order that the game must unfold, it is cleverly hidden enough, and still loose enough in the discovery of specific clues that you feel that you really are just returning from a long journey abroad, and are desperately searching for the fate of those you love. The connection that you make in the scant couple of hours that it takes to play through the game (not much longer than a movie would be) is astounding, and allows for a beautiful and staggeringly personal story to be told.
Gone Home is a unique storytelling achievement, one that should be praised for its accomplishments, and held up as a prime example of Games as Art.