Thursday, August 7, 2014

On Gone Home

I am not a gamer. I suppose I fit the model more back during Junior High, but during High School, I never got into it. I never owned a console, hell, still don't own a TV. I enjoyed the classic RPGs and I've slipped in here and there for games with really good stories. I want to become a published author at some point and I'm studying acting at University, so games like Skyrim hold next to no appeal to me. I'm not much of a roleplayer, I'm here to get my story on, which is why Ken Levine and Chris Avellone are personal heroes of mine (that said, I'm still looking to get my hands on The Forest, which is a little lacking in narrative structure, but still looks like terrifying, challenging fun). 

So when Gone Home was released, I was pretty hyped to play another interactive story, like To the Moon, which I reviewed a while back here

Most Idiotic Review

I can't find one ... Short of going into forums and comments which mostly are just people unhappy that the game isn't like other games.The biggest complaint I heard that I could sympathize with was the short game-play time compared to the price. As a student, I can really sympathize.

Most Accurate Review

"... realistic, engrossing story that’s beautifully told through environmental clues and audio narration ... many people read books for the opportunity to see life through someone else’s eyes, but it’s rare for a game to do it as well as this one does." — Emily Morganti (Adventure Gamers)

There were quite a few reviews to choose from on this one, but I liked this one. As a writer, one has to spend a lot of time thinking about setting details, even if they don't ultimately make it into the finished manuscript. In Design Analysis class we spent a lot of time talking about how to use Line, Shape, Mass, Value, Color, Light, and Texture. 

Gone Home is a perfect example of having a conscious approach to these elements of design. And yes, I realize what a total dweeb I am for making that connection of all possible connections. Never mind the fact that my sister is gay. No, that flew right over my head. 

What I Think

It's a damn good story. It's not really much of a game. That doesn't bother me. 

Okay, admittedly it's been a little while since I played the game so I'm running on some fumes as far as character and plot are concerned, so I'll keep this brief. You take control of Kaitlin who's just gotten home after a year of traveling to find the house empty. As you explore the house, you uncover clues as to where your family, specifically your little sister Samantha, has disappeared to.

That's pretty much it. There's some puzzling out for you to do, but most of the story involves finding notes and listening to recordings. It's like BioShock without the Splicers and only the Audiologs and the environment ... which still sounds entertaining to me. 

I know some people weren't thrilled by the ending, or underwhelmed would be the better word, but personally, I connected with it. I didn't come from the most average of households. We certainly weren't the Cleavers, so I connected a lot with the story of the little sister as it unfolded. I found it powerful in how understated it was. 

Definitely want to keep my eyes open for more games out there like Gone Home.