2013081000023100050264large500
IT & Systems Management

Gone Home is an evocative first-person exploration game without guns

Gone Home, the debut game from the Fullbright Company, is a first-person "adventure game" that challenges you to explore your family's house in 1995-era Portland. The small, four-person team of developers, mostly veterans of the excellent Bioshock 2 DLC Minerva's Den, call it a "story exploration game."

You play as Katie, recently returned from a trip abroad to an unfamiliar house--both her parents and her younger sister have moved away while she was out of town. When you get home, the house is empty and a note on the door from your sister says, "I'm sorry I can't be there to see you, but it is impossible. Please, please don't go digging around trying to find out where I am."

From there you wander your family's home, examining the various artifacts of modern life that families tend to accrue over the years, slowly piecing together the full story. You'll never meet your family members--your mother Janice, your father Terry, or your sister Sam--but each of them has a fully realized, complex character arc explored through the random documents you read, and (in Sam's case) the occasional "audio recording" doled out after handling certain objects.

Gone Home is what happens when you take the excellent incidental storytelling of a Bioshock game (or Elder Scrolls, for that matter) and stop shackling it to a game-y combat system. You don't fight any enemies here, or burn the house down. You read. You experience. You walk around.

As a result, the Fullbright crew is able to tell a poignant, realistic story to those with the patience to experience it. This is maybe the first time I've ever associated the words "slice of life" with a game, but it works--for the most part. Not having access to a run button takes some getting used to--and it makes some sections of the game feel tedious--but it makes sense in the context of the story.

There's not much else you can discuss about Gone Home that isn't a spoiler, considering it's all story. In light of that, I've decided to present this review a bit differently from my standard 1,800 word essay. I've scanned some documents to share with you, some that I originally made in preparation for writing this review, others that I had sitting around my apartment or on my hard drive. Maybe this will give you an idea what it's like to play Gone Home by reconstructing my own play experience.

Don't enjoy the format? That's fine. For those looking for a traditional article, both Polygon and Giant Bomb published excellent reviews that echo how I feel about this game.

Basically, just play Gone Home. It's gorgeous.

One last note: props to Chris Remo for another fantastic soundtrack.

PREVIOUS ARTICLE

« Gigwalk expansion lets Android users earn extra money around town

NEXT ARTICLE

Google blocks Microsoft's YouTube app for Windows Phone (again) »
author_image
IDG News Service

The IDG News Service is the world's leading daily source of global IT news, commentary and editorial resources. The News Service distributes content to IDG's more than 300 IT publications in more than 60 countries.

  • Mail

Recommended for You

International Women's Day: We've come a long way, but there's still an awfully long way to go

Charlotte Trueman takes a diverse look at today’s tech landscape.

Trump's trade war and the FANG bubble: Good news for Latin America?

Lewis Page gets down to business across global tech

20 Red-Hot, Pre-IPO companies to watch in 2019 B2B tech - Part 1

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends

Poll

Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?