Gone Home: Console Edition Reviews

AuthorReview
KAxelC
160,723 (108,040)
KAxelC
TA Score for this game: 889
Posted on 13 March 16 at 15:55, Edited on 24 March 16 at 06:48
This review has 26 positive votes and 4 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Gone home... not the most catchy title on the market, but still, there is something about the way it presents itself, with the mysterious old house and the ominous purple sky, something... intriguing.

Honestly, before playing it, I had no idea what to expect at all. Was this a horror game much like White Night or more like a detective game, like Blues and Bullets? Or even more like a shortstory-game like Three Fourths Home?

I shall give my verdict at the end of the review, on which of these games came closest to Gone home, but first... a little bit of backstory.

The Story...
So, you are playing Katie Greenbriar, a young woman who has been travelling all over Europe for a while, but who is finally coming home. While she has been gone, the family has moved into the home of their late uncle, a change that Katie's younger sister, Sam (Samantha) is finding hard to cope with.

When you return from your trip, you find yourself in an empty house during a nasty storm. The only hint of your family is a letter that Sam has left for you, a rather disturbing letter. Apparently she is gone and doesn't want you, or anyone, to come looking for her. The big question is... where is she and what has happened to her?

Gameplay
Now it is up to you to search the house for clues to your sister's whereabouts, and while you do so, you will also discover more about your own story and your family's. The entire game takes place in this new house and you find yourself exploring all the rooms, picking up things to look for clues.

Every now and then, there will be certain clues that trigger a connection between you and your sister, and you will hear Samantha telling you about events in her life.

There isn't really much gameplay other than that. You can access your inventory, but you can't really pick up much stuff and it isn't really necessary for you to do so. You can also access a map and the journal entries from Sam, and these are quite nice and handy.

So really... just kick back... move through the house, pick things up, enjoy the level of detail and immerse yourself in the story. It has a few twists and turns that I won't tell you about here. I mean... you wouldn't want me to ruin the experience... would you?!

Sound and graphics
The sounds are nice, subtle, but they feel real and therefore add to the story. The graphics are decent, meaning that they won't overwhelm you or anything, but they also wont disturb your engagement into the game. The designers have left a lot of small clues around the house for you to find, clues that, if like me you were around Sam's age in 1996, will feel cool to discover. I am talking about stuff like a ticket to Pulp Fiction or the titles of the old vhs tapes, boardgames etc.. Cool details.

The Extras...
Since this game is rather short, it is nice to see that they have invented sort of a new feature (that I know of...): the Commentary. If you are like me, someone who loves listening to the commentaries of dvds, you are going to love this feature. You'll learn some details that you might not have found otherwise and get a lot of interesting stories from behind the scenes. Not all of them are equally interesting though. Personally, I loved the unscripted talks between the designers more than the scripted speak of the composer. But hey, thats just me!

My final thoughts...
Gone home is not groundbreaking or anything, and you probably won't find yourself returning to it a month from now, but as a small exploration game... that will take you away from your own life for a few hours... it works rather well. I enjoyed myself, but I also know that this sort of game is not for everyone. It is slow-paced, like... really slow-paced, and you need to pay attention to ALL the details to get the full experience.

However, if you are just looking for an easy 1k... this is the game for you. You can use the videos on TA to move through the game quite fast. I did this myself to get some of the easter egg achievements that I had missed.

Now, I promised I would tell you if this game was closer to White Night, Blues and Bullets or Three Fourths Home... and my verdict is that... it is actually equal parts all three.

There are 9 comments relating to this Review | Please log in to comment on this solution.
Zefph
518,454 (336,225)
Zefph
TA Score for this game: 1,327
Posted on 03 March 18 at 11:47
This review has 4 positive votes and 3 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Is this a "Walking Simulator" or a "Story Driven" masterpiece?

That depends! The game has everything that screams "OH WOW A JUMP SCARE IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN". Big house, stormy weather, takes place at midnight, lights off, creaking noises around the house, a map inspired by Silent Hill and mystique.

But if you expect a spooky game with ghosts, monsters and little girls - well, then you're in for a disappointment.

I'll keep this review as spoiler-free as possible since the story is 99% of the game rather than the gameplay. You're Katie who arrives home from a trip to Europe in this mid 90s middle class home. The house is a huge mansion with a LOT to explore.

You walk around and notice how empty it is. From there you will find a bunch of notes regarding "your family" but most importantly your younger sister Sam.

Your objective is to find out... Where is your younger sister and what happened to her? You'll find a lot of nicely written notes, backstory related messages through letters, diary's and flashback audio from Sam.

The game's audio is nicely done. You get the feel that you are not alone in the house with all the noise appearing from defunct electrical equipment, the house itself and the storm. While I said that there were no jumpscare, I can't help but feel like I hear whispers, stuff being moved and doors getting opened. That is how great the audio is. You feel like somebody is watching and are scared to death by the setting of stormy weather and the mysterious disappearance.

The music develops along with the story which is a nice touch. It really seems like the audio sets the perfect tone and is well thought out. Sarah Crayston who voices Sam does an excellent job, and really makes an emotional performance to drag you into the mind of a teenager that deals with her life and what opposes her.

The story itself is nicely done. Without going into too much detail, it may be predictable if you're just blasting through without touching the sub elements or Sam's thoughts. There are twists and "ohhhh"-moments but it is not about the story itself but the connection you get while playing as "the older sister" of a 17 year old.

Is it short? Yes. Don't expect to play for days. While there is a LOT of exploring and hidden stuff to find, you can finish it up in a couple of hours. If you don't like to read, or do not like the tone of the story then yes, it'll turn you off. But if you give the story a chance, you're in for a beautiful yet dark story.

This game is a masterpiece in my book. But I do understand why some people won't like it because it lacks jumpscares or the story appalls them.
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Lt Davo
146,353 (69,335)
Lt Davo
TA Score for this game: 1,327
Posted on 11 October 17 at 00:15, Edited on 11 October 17 at 03:45
This review has 13 positive votes and 18 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
In Gone Home, 21-year-old Katie Greenbriar comes home from a year's vacation in Europe. Her family - mother, father, and younger sister, Sam - moved into a new house while she was away. She comes home to the new house to find it empty, with a note from Sam on the door.

The gameplay consists of exploring a room, picking up items and looking at them, putting them back down, then moving to the next room. There are a few locked doors, safes, and the like, but these are not puzzles; they are roadblocks that force you to "explore" the various sections and rooms of the house in the correct order.

The story of what happened to Sam and Katie's parents is revealed as you pick up the various notes, letters, memos, and other scraps that the family has left littered around the house. It's weird enough that there are all these papers left lying out; it's even weirder that they were left in chronological order. The story is also revealed through audio journal entries left by Sam that start playing when you pick up certain items.

I'm sure the creators of this game, and any fans it has, will say that its strength is its story. It really isn't. I love a good story as much as anyone, and while Gone Home has the beginnings, the makings, of one, there isn't enough to it. Also, about halfway through, it becomes pretty obvious what's going to happen. I spent the second half of the "game" (I put the word in quotes because it's hard for me to call it that, since I rarely felt like I was playing a game) waiting for the story to get more interesting. It didn't. When I got to the final room - and I knew it was the final room from the dates on the notes and letters I was finding - I was hoping for a twist, or surprise, or at least some kind of satisfying payoff. There wasn't.

To anyone who still wants to argue that Gone Home has a strong story, I'll point out that there's an achievement for finding all of the game's journal entries in 10 minutes:
Gone Home: Console EditionSpeedreaderThe Speedreader achievement in Gone Home: Console Edition worth 302 pointsComplete the game having found all 24 journal entries, without Modifiers, in less than 10 minutes.


Speaking of achievements, there's one particularly nasty one for completionists:
Gone Home: Console EditionBehind the ScenesThe Behind the Scenes achievement in Gone Home: Console Edition worth 145 pointsActivate all Commentary Nodes with the Developer Commentary Modifier enabled.

It requires you to find all, like, 700 of the developer's commentary nodes in the house. If you were wondering the story of who provided five words of handwriting on one note, what his or her name is and why that person's handwriting was considered ideal for that particular note, then repeating that experience 699 more times, you'll love grinding this achievement!

I don't see much reason to review the artwork, sound, voice acting, etc. Those were all OK, except for the "music" that's on the cassette tapes that Katie can pick up and play in tape players, all of which was ear-bleeding.

If you like adventure, strategy, and/or puzzles, don't play this game.

If you like a good, deep story told through action and dialogue, don't play this game.

If you like a short, simple story told one page at a time while you walk through a house on a railroad track and rummage through drawers, play this game.
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