Two things you need not worry about while reading this review are spoilers or me jumping into the asinine debate about whether or not Gone Home is a game. With those bases covered, let’s talk about what different types of gamers may take away from the Gone Home experience.
Bookworms – If you love storytelling at the forefront of your games, Gone Home will certainly answer the mail for you. What I can’t tell you definitively is whether or not you will enjoy this particular journey. The entire game’s narrative is driven by looking at and listening to the world through the eyes and ears of the main and supporting characters. I found the overarching story to be extremely engaging early in the game. Unfortunately, the climax of the story was far stronger than the ending. I also found myself often wanting to skip through the parts that weren’t related to the main story.
Explorers – Exploring Gone Home’s world was where I had my most fun. Discovering the next piece and direction of the story simply by traversing the world in front of me was very gratifying–when what I was discovering was actually interesting (see my previous comment about skipping subplots). It was this sense of discovery that propelled me to play the game entirely in one sitting.
Audiophiles – On the sonic side of the house, you’ve got superb voice acting mixed with a perfectly fitting native soundtrack. I stress the word ‘native’ because there are other opportunities to experience music in Gone Home that are not quite as enjoyable as the organic soundtrack. In fact, I found some of them downright grating.
Visualists – Perhaps what sells Gone Home’s story best is the intelligent use of the third person camera. I’m not a film guy, so I don’t know the technical terms for the camera trickery that’s going on in game. Just know that the developers use it very well to sell some of the more dramatic scenes (especially the final scene).
Tourists – Gone Home is a quick game to finish. If you prefer your gaming experiences to come in at under five hours, you may have found your match.
Verdict – Gone Home is hard for me to bottom line. On the one hand, I heavily enjoyed the story right up until what I felt was a less memorable and somewhat telegraphed ending. But, this is coming from someone who does not score heavily in our bookworm category. At the very end of it, I’m glad I had the experience so that I could see what everyone was so fired up about. But, I also could have watched someone else play it on YouTube and been almost as satisfied save for the lack of exploration. I think it was an excellent start to what will hopefully become more consistently engaging narrative-driven games in the future.
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