Review: Gone Home (A Short Message at the End)

Hello! This here will be my full on review of the game Gone Home.

Gone Home

Gone Home

Gone Home is an interactive exploration simulator that was recently published by the Fullbright Company on August 15, 2013. Since the release, critics have been known to be giving Gone Home extremely high scores. Nonetheless, the game received much controversy and negative feedback from many gamers. Despite by the varying of positive and negative feedback, I personally have my own set of viewpoints on this game.

Gone home takes place in 1995 where you play as Katie Greenbriar who recently has gone home from an overseas trip to find her family mysteriously gone. As Katie, we venture throughout the house uncovering your parents’ whereabouts and drama that has been occuring between the family while you were gone for the year.

In all, this game is NOT portrayed as a survival-horror in any form which many gamers may have been misguided into believing (although this had been stated in the Steam profile of the game).

But enough about what other gamers thought and let us move past it!

Gone Home has left an impression on me that will truly be unforgettable. A feature that completely stood out to me in the game was the incredible voice acting. Sam, Katie’s younger sister, is the only voice that narrates what she has gone through but she does a remarkable job in doing so. Sam’s voice had been so captivating, calm, and gentle that I found myself falling in love with it everytime she spoke. The background ambiance, although sometimes quite eerie, created such a wonderful and peaceful atmosphere as we could hear the pitter-patter of rain and occasional thunder. Additionally, I truly cannot forget the wonderful music that played in the background whenever Sam spoke. The music created such a warming and comforting surrounding, in addition to Sam’s voice, that had made the gloomy house seem like the safest place in the world. One criticism I would like to give the game is the lack of backstory of the characters, since we only get to know about what had been happening during the year that Katie had been gone. But even then, that contributing factor wouldn’t necessarily add all that much into the game.

The controls are simple and easy to adjust to (as the game also provides a side-note tutorial as you play along!) as it uses the universal WASD keys to walk and the mouse to look around your surroundings. Most items in the house can be picked up and examined thorough its exterior features (which I had found myself doing for a majority of the game).

Enough about the boring stuff! Let us get on to the beautiful and well-written story of the game.

WARNING: To avoid any spoilers of Gone Home, please do NOT proceed reading!

In the game Gone Home, when we venture around the house as Katie we learn that conflicts between the family members have been occuring the past year since Katie had been absent. We learn that Sam struggles in high school as students begin questioning her about the new house that she has moved in as being the “ghost house” or the house her “crazy uncle” had previously inherited. Despite this, we find out that Sam eventually makes an immediate close bond with a girl named Lonnie, who is currently going through the process of enrollment into the army. Through games of Street Fighter and frequent hangouts Sam and Lonnie build a strong and intimate relationship with one another. At one point, we learn Sam lies to her parents to visit a concert and during then is when the messages begin to become clear about how Sam really felt about Lonnie. They later stay at a friend’s house in which they both share a futon because there had been no other empty bed. After the lights go out, Lonnie confesses to Sam that she ‘really likes her’. The proceeding day, we learn that Lonnie instantly regrets for what she said the previous night but as Sam herself tries to get herself to confess as well, Lonnie quickly kisses Sam before she has the chance. From this point on, we see the struggle in the relationship between Sam and Lonnie as they try to keep their relationship a secret before eventually Sam’s parents find out. Sam’s parents respond in complete denial that she was merely going through a “phase” and that she hasn’t “met the right boy”. Angry and devastated, Sam continues the relationship with Lonnie before she eventually finds out that Lonnie has to leave and join the army. Knowing that they can’t be together , Sam and Lonnie spend their last together before Sam awakens to find herself alone. We find out that Sam overslept past a message left by Lonnie on a phone before barely catching the third call. Lonnie, in tears, explains to Sam how she couldn’t manage to go through with being in the army and being away from her. Lonnie then asks Sam if she will run away with her and starting new lives for themselves. Sam answers with a “Yes” before packing her things to leave for Lonnie. At the very end of the game as Sam finally narrates the last journal entry, Sam apologizes for not being there for Katie, but that they’ll see each other again one day.

By the end of the game, I find myself in tears as the credits begin to roll. The game had such a powerful impact, story, and message that helped me open my mind in a way that will truly be unforgettable. The game left a suspense as we questioned whether or not we would find Sam alive or not as she explained the struggles in her life. The suspense had been nearly unbearable as we entered into the attic at the end of the game to find out if we’d either find the last journal entry or Sam; having taken her life. The game was a mixture of comfort and nostalgia (with the familiar old consoles and video cassettes) as we ventured out the game. I truly believe that if you can get pass the $20 price tag (for about 2-3 hour gameplay), to pick the game and experience it yourself.

I applaud Fullbright Company for touching upon a topic that many people struggle with today. Gone Home had truly been a fantastic experience that helped me open my mind. And now if you made it this far, I’d like to leave a short message:

I’m actually bit disappointed I wasn’t able to post this in time for ally week or National Coming Out Day, but nonetheless I hope to leave a message worth to some degree of importance.

Being in the year 2013, we may not see much intolerance for LGBT students in our community. But of course there’s no certainty that you won’t hear slurs and insults relating to one’s sexual orientation thrown around. Despite all this hate, I can guarantee that there will be more supporters than there are not. I guess my point is to never change who you are no matter what anyone says and that things will get better and you will get stronger and that there will always be someone there to love you for who you are. In addition, I am always available as person to vent or to talk to.

Without further ado, I hope everyone has a fantastic start to their new week!

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