Gone Home PC Review

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I’ve always been a fan of implied story and writers that have enough confidence in their audience to let them piece things together themselves. The Fullbright Company created a short story narrative that comes and goes faster than most films, but it delivers a full spectrum of emotion without ever directly interacting with you. The beauty of Gone Home is its simplicity and it’s ability to compel you to keep moving forward. Sometimes I need to take a break while reviewing, but not this time.

Gone Home drops you into foreign territory almost immediately. I don’t mean foreign like alien world, an alternate universe, or even “the future”. What I’m referring to is the fact that you’re treated to a very minimal tutorial, an equally brief prologue, and left to your own designs. Your free to spend as much or as little time as you’d like examining items, letters, journal entries, and the entirety off your families rather large, curiously empty estate. Everything is handled from a first person perspective as to fully immerse you in your surroundings. If there’s a single aspect of Gone Home I’d write home to momma about it’s Fullbright’s ability to absorb the player in the environments and characters they’ve created. I felt like I’d learned more about the Greenbriar family inside of two hours than I’ve learned about the Gears of War┬ácast during my entire tenure with the series.

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In Gone Home your actions are severely limited, not that that’s a bad thing. There’s no high-octane actions sequences, near death experiences, or hostile encounters to worry about, so a simple control scheme is all that’s needed. As I mentioned before, you’ll be exploring the home that your family has semi-recently moved into for the duration of the experience. The most demanding sequences literally consisted of two or three non-timed sequential button presses. Relieving yourself of the normal stresses of video games allows you to focus more wholly on the experience at hand. Something I’ve found myself exceedingly thankful for as of recent. I’m not sure what’s changed, but I’ve become a considerably more story-driven. I crave great writing more than over-the-top conflict. The stupid simple controls and UI of Gone Home allowed me to approach the story in a more meaningful way, and I wouldn’t have asked for anything different.

Being an indie PC title, Gone Home doesn’t offer expansive vistas or living environments, but it’s presentation is clean and functional. On occasion I even found myself impressed by the texture found on a piece of parchment paper, of the excellent lighting effects. The studios ability to recreate the tropes of life in the 90’s was also quite notable. Cassette and VHS tapes, tube TV’s, and oak stained furniture were found in abundance. Gone Home didn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to visuals, far from it, but it accomplished what it set out to do with its aesthetics.

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Gone Home’s narrative was easily its most enjoyable facet. Piecing together the lives of a Mother, Father and Sister you’ve never met through their belongings was surprisingly entertaining. Each character had a distinct side-story and an existence to uncover. Details are strewn about the home in the form of a wide range of interactive ways. Listen to the music your sister has recently taken interest in or glance at a newspaper clipping your mother is mentioned in. One thing becomes abundantly clear as a result of your unmitigated snooping; your family’s life has changed while you were abroad. And what of the new home they’ve found themselves in? There’s a heavy, foreboding feeling that pours over you when you approach a poorly lit area of the house. Is it just your imagination, or is there something more at work? Ultimately Gone Home delivers a film quality story in an interactive fashion. At times I found myself noticeably on-edge about nothing at all; that’s good writing.

In the end I’m glad I waited for a sale, I don’t know how happy I’d be if I shelled out $20 for just shy of two hours worth of entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, it was quality entertainment, but the short run-time might turn some more frugal gamers away. Gone Home rests somewhere between the point and click adventure and the first person action game, or maybe it’s a genre all its own. Either way I experienced a full range of emotions throughout my time with the Fullbright Company’s mysterious tapestry. I found Gone Home to be aesthetically pleasing and it’s story was top-notch. If you spot it on sale (like it is right now during mid-week madness on Steam), grab it.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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