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Loved it to pieces (but not for everyone)
I have no idea how to classify this growing genre. I’ve started just labeling them “Interactive Narratives”, which gets the point across while sounding nice and pseudo-intellectual.

So, Gone Home is an “Interactive Narrative” game, which consists of you, as 20-year-old Katie, meandering through your not!childhood home after a year abroad. But as it’s 1995, none of your family had a Facebook page to let you know what the bloody hell went on during your European adventures. Spoilers: Family Drama! Weeeeeee!

To say more would spoil it. Gone Home is entirely reliant on its plot and how invested you become in uncovering all the mundane (ie. in comparison of what games are usually about) snippets of your family’s life.

It’s unavoidably going to be compared to Dear Esther, due to the lack of any real gameplay (other than choosing which direction to go) and the portioned out story. Gone Home has more control and interactivity, sure, but it’s not an unreasonable comparison. To whit – I really liked Dear Esther, and I really liked Gone Home.

And like Dear Esther, I can see players splitting themselves down the middle - CoD players” vs “Pretentious twats”, which is a shame but hey, Internet. Still, as a pretentious Co D-playing twat, I find myself thoroughly confused. Some of my best friends whose opinion I greatly respect would sooner drive a steak-knife into their goolies than sit through Gone Home, while I’m looking forward to a replay. Odd to get yourself wound-up over it.

There are a few other items I have seen some take issue with – the price, for starters. $20.00 for, at most, 3 hours of gameplay (1.5 seems to be the average. I’m a dawdler) might be too much for some. There’s the aforementioned straddling the line between “game” and “movie with arrow buttons”. Also – there’s no twist, otherwordly or otherwise. Sorry. Apparently some were expecting to find Jacob Marley in the attic.

So in summary: I liked it a heck of a lot. You may not though. It’s that kind of game. I could go on, but I’ve just learnt how short 400 words really is.

NB. I should also mention I've no real personal experience with the elements of Sam’s story, Gone Home’s main hook, so I’m in no position to really judge it critically. I, for one, just found it to be a good, sweet story told exceptionally well.
I found the lack of twist to be the twist. Even on a non-supernatural note, I was afraid that Sam had committed suicide up in the attic. Thank goodness it didn't end that way.

I did find the price a bit much, but then I considered that it was comparable enough to a movie on a price-to-gameplay-hours basis, and that I actually had more fun with it than I usually do at the movies. So I guess I can't really complain, though if it were $5 I might have gifted three more copies to friends for the same total expenditure on my part. So really, the only person losing out is the developer for potentially getting less exposure out of my dollars.

Anyway, the attention to detail was fantastic. Those JROTC Army ribbons? Those are real. So is the X-Files airing on Friday nights in 1995. The clues hidden throughout the house assemble an amazing picture of the entire family, even though Sam is the main thrust of the story proper. Every little bit of the game was thought out so well, down to the tiniest details. It's really a brilliant piece of work.

Now hold on, I've got to go try Dear Esther. I want more of this stuff.
comment #20744 JobanGrayskull 19th Aug 13
Yeah, I was exactly the same. I was ascending those attic stairs very gradually, I think, muttering "No no no no no no no...".

I honestly never gave the price a second though until after, when I saw other people raising (perfectly fair) points about it. But I love supporting games like this.

Not being an American, I quite probably missed a lot of the subtle, minor touches or references, but still thought the amount of work put into making the house "real" was amazing. Fantastic storytelling.

Dear Esther - highly recommended. Far less interactive (you literally just walk around an island listening to narration), but I love it.
comment #20754 Grimace 19th Aug 13
Despite my hate towards Dear Esther's fanbase, Gone Home does sound like the kind of interactive narrative that I can see myself enjoying.
comment #20772 Rahkshi500 20th Aug 13
I dislike Dear Esther for it not really being a "game" and tbh, Gone Home doesn't look all that much better. Sure you can walk around and click and interact with stuff, and the story is less cryptic, and there's a lot of attention to detail in the thing you pick up, but that only makes it a small step up from Dear Esther, and it's certainly not enough to make me pony up $20 (twice the price of Dear Esther and 4 times what I actually paid to get this game among others in a bundle) for it. I'm not against you for liking it. I'm against a lot of people (not you) saying that this is a masterpiece of game story and storytelling simply because it covers topics that have never really been touched upon in gaming before.

PS: I loved Flower for PS 3, so I can understand the appeal of artsy interactive fiction, but even that has more gameplay than either Gone Home or Dear Esther.
comment #20844 Nettacki 25th Aug 13
I didn't like Dear Esther, as being a totally linear walk with narration, but I like Gone Home for providing me with more interactivity, explorability and freedom, as well as a setting I like better and can relate to, and a story that makes more sense to me.

I used to enjoy walking around The Ship, and I liked walking around some "roleplaying levels" in Garrys Mod, so I saw this as being similar, but with more purpose and a lot more to look at.
comment #20886 BonsaiForest 27th Aug 13
The only thing I didn't like, is the whole Plot Hole having to do with what Lonnie did at the end. I can't tell if that was intended (did the story writer KNOW what would happen to Lonnie if someone had done that IRL?) or not. If it was intended, then wow. What a dark, dark ending. If not, then it shows Critical Research Failure on the part of the story writer(s). I'd have to say the former is true, but you never know. Either way, I had fun with it, tho I wish the plot was actually resolved (what happens to the family after the game's end, etc?).
comment #21698 Xylia 23rd Oct 13
Just want to say while the review is on the front page - Interactive Fiction has been a thing since at least the 80's, it just used to use a command line GUI relying solely - or almost solely - on text.

This game sounds good, but maybe as a $10 or even $5 curiosity. Still, if it's supporting a group creating more visual novels and/or interactive fiction, I'd probably buy it.

(Yes, I mentioned V Ns. Not all Visual Novels pertain to the stereotype of dark/twisted or "romantic"/sexually pandering, there are ones like Phoenix Wright that sound similar to how this game is operated.)
comment #21702 MrMallard 24th Oct 13
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