Gone Home is a first-person exploration game that masterfully hooks the player through excellent storytelling. In this mysterious game, it is up you to solve clues by exploring an empty mansion to find out what has happened to your missing family.
The year is 1995. After a year abroad, Katie Greenbriar arrives to her family’s new home after a late night flight in dark and stormy weather. Instead of being greeted warmly by the Greenbriar family, everyone is gone. It is up to you to search the house and figure out where everyone went. Finding notes and various clues will unlock narrated diary entries by your younger sister, Sam, which will give further insight into what has happened to her, and why the house is empty.
Gone Home is an exploration game that utilizes simple movement and point-and-click interactions to tell a heart-wrenching story. The simplicity of gameplay lends itself well to the Switch. Users can get up close and personal with the game by playing with the console undocked, which is helpful since the game requires the player to be very observant and involved in searching every nook and cranny of the environment in order to piece together what happened to Katie’s family. Opening every drawer, closet, or notebook that you can get your hands on is necessary, and rewarding. There is no combat or puzzles, just simple and compelling exploration.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
There are no breathtaking graphics, since the game is designed with the story at the forefront, but that in no way detracts from the game. Due to the nighttime setting, rooms are very dark until you find the light switches, and the environment is designed so that clues are visible, but not too obvious. The audio in this game is extremely well executed. Sarah Grayson, who voices Sam, is a superb voice actor and creates a really believable story. The ambient noises of the old house and raging storm outside lend a rather spooky touch as you explore the Greenbriar’s mansion at night, so much so that I kept waiting for something to jump out at me before I realized that there was no combat in the game. Playing with headphones provides an even more immersive experience and is highly recommended.
Gone Home is perfect for those who love narrative-focused games that prioritize excellent storytelling. It shines in the simplicity of its gameplay, and the voice acting is amazing. It really feels like Sam is talking to you about her life as you unlock her diary entries, and I could not put down my Switch until I had solved the mystery. Sam’s story focuses on universal themes such as acceptance and belonging; anyone who plays the game will be able to relate to it in some capacity, which speaks to the strength of its storytelling. Its relatively short 2-5 hour play time (the length depends on how much exploring you do) may not be worth the price to those who are more casually interested in playing this game. For those who love a good mystery story, want to revisit some 90’s nostalgia, or want a game that hits hard emotionally, Gone Home is a must buy.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Annapurna Interactive
Developer – Fullbright
Price – $14.99
Genre – Adventure
Size – 2.9 GB
Cidney has been a fan of Nintendo games since she got her first console, the N64, in 1999 when she was eight. She loved playing Ocarina of Time, even though she was too scared to go into Hyrule field at night, and was bribed into learning her multiplication tables at the age of ten with the promise of Majora’s Mask when she had mastered them all. She has been an obsessive Zelda fan ever since. Though she did not beat any of the Zelda games until her teenage years, Cidney was quick to master Mario Kart 64 and Super Smash Bros. and delighted in making her younger sisters play with her all the time.