With games like Gone Home we really have to ask ourselves, what makes a game? I ask myself this on occasion when review story-centric video games. Gone Home is in this grey area, almost like Limbo. It has the story progression, is has gameplay, and it has an ending. In this sense, I guess you could say Gone Home is a video game.
Gone Home is about a young lady who reminisces about a life she had before she left home. Hence the name. The story is told through the main character's narration of memories triggered by trinkets found throughout the home. The voice actresses for the two characters are really good. They help drive the game's story because you can relate to them in some way or another.
The controls are so simple. It is barely worth mentioning because they are only a means to progress the game. The story is why you play. No not the story, it is the characters. That is why you play Gone Home. The focus is on who you are playing and her interactions with her best friend. The focus is on the atmosphere and subtle tones of feelings left by the people who lived in the house. At first, you think this is some kind of horror game. The atmosphere is spooky and eerie, but you quickly learn that this is far from horror or anything of the like.
Gone Home has a lot of backstory and character development. Everything you need to know is found in the house. Through notes in drawers, pamphlets, pictures, and musical tapes. It is such a great way to tell a story of a character because it is that person's specific interaction with that item. It is only told through small narrations. There aren't cutscenes, there is not a long drawn out narration. It is small and concise. That is what makes the game's storytelling so special.
The disappointment of Gone Home? It is the ending. More or less, the game ends when you do not want it to. I was upset when the credits rolled at a measly 35 minutes. I learned all I could about the characters and their feelings, but I wanted more. I guess that is the appeal of Gone Home. It leaves you wanting more, but you are still satisfied in the end because you still got closure.
The truth is, I am being purposefully vague about the story of Gone Home. I want players to experience the game as I did, knowing nothing about the game and discovering everything the story has to offer. It has some great character development, and incredibly unique storytelling. I want everyone to play this game at least once. It is that unique in this world of gaming. The simplicity is ambitious, and it works.
I give Gone Home a 9/10.