Imaginative storytelling makes ‘Gone Home’ a must play
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 01:09
“Gone Home” is a first-person point-and-click adventure game that shows a capacity for video games to present a story in a way no other form of media possibly can, through an interactive world.
Set in a home completely open for exploration, the story and members of the family are developed through common household objects, notes and letters that you can pick up and examine. Just how deep and interesting these characters may seem is defined by the player’s own curiosity, powers of observation and ability to connect the dots as they interact with anything in the house. There is a story told through several recordings, but this is just the tip of the iceberg that “Gone Home’s” whole story has to offer.
It is a stormy night in 1995 and you play as Katie Greenbriar who is returning from a year abroad to her family in their new house. But you find no one home and a note from Sam, Katie’s younger sister, asking not to go looking for her. The ominous setting starts you on a path to wander about the large house searching through common objects for clues that might explain what happened to your family over the last year. Some clues are obvious explanations of a situation and some require a bit of detective work to fully comprehend, but practically everything you look at says something about the family.
There are also quite a few objects which activate recordings left by Sam for Katie. These powerfully written messages recount her experiences with moving to a new town, dealing with her parents and falling in love. Sam’s recordings are the only part of the game that has a particular order to them. They have a timeline, but just because there is an order to the recordings does not mean you have to find them in that order.
There is no set path to explore the house, so objects and recordings are found in whatever order they are happened upon. With no order to follow, the story develops through the player’s own exploration. Each clue found is just a small piece of the puzzle that forms Katie’s family. The characters and story develop solely through interaction with the house. Other than Sam’s recordings there is no actual sequence that can be followed, just clues the player can find.
“Gone Home” takes two hours to finish, but it should be played several times to find everything that was overlooked during the first play through and get a complete understanding of the story. It presents a story without telling it; it lays the clues that when weaved together by the player forms the lives of a family. The story is strong and beautiful, but what sets “Gone Home” apart is how it leaves the player to uncover the story for themselves. “Gone Home” shows what video games are capable of in terms of storytelling. It sets them apart and in turn sets itself apart.