Gone Home is a hard game to review without giving away spoilers. The game is so story driven, weighing so heavily on the narrative (and the unknown) that to describe a modicum of the story is almost giving away too much. That being said, I’ll do my best, whilst remaining spoiler free.
Gone Home falls into the yawn inducing debate of ‘is it a game?’ It most certainly is, and a very good one too. The year is 1995. You play as Kaitlin (in a first person view), returning from a trip overseas, to find there is nobody home. Your job is to explore the house looking for clues, listening to voicemails, and generally just trying to piece together what has happened (despite a note begging you to not investigate the events that have occurred). There is no set objectives. You can complete Gone Home in 4 hours, investigating every nook and cranny, or you can complete the whole game in under a minute (no really, there’s even a trophy for it!). The game essentially presents you with a vague but intriguing premise and leaves it up to you what you do with that appetiser.
Perhaps the most interesting dilemma of Gone Home is that it totally depends on the player for how highly they rate it. Whilst this is true to an extent for all games, the divide is almost even more exaggerated here. For one person, this could be their favourite game of all time. For another, it could be the worst game they’ve ever played. But if you really take the time to look under the rug, you’ll uncover a truly beautiful story that will stay with you after you’ve played. There are a couple of uncomfortable realisations, but also some lovely ones too. The game also has a really genuinely enjoyable trophy list too. Whether it’s relocating a Christmas duck or listening to the truly fascinating director’s commentary you’ll bash out the 100% in about 4 hours and enjoy every moment. As you may expect, Gone Home is also full of brilliant 90’s references, including the Wet Bandit trophy for Home Alone fans out there.
The one and only problem with Gone Home actually has nothing to do with the game itself. It’s a wonderful experience truly. The only debatable point is the price. For £15.99, a lot of gamers will rightly question whether 3-4 hours gameplay is worth that price. Whilst it is steep, I tend to gauge games on my experience with them, more than my hours clocked. But it’s definitely something to consider beforehand.
There may be bigger, brighter and louder games on your radar, but Gone Home is a hugely intriguing, strange and alluring experience. After all, there’s nothing like coming home.
Punk rating: 8/10