I’ve been playing and reviewing games for a while now, and I usually know exactly how I’m going to go about writing a review for a game even before I put pen to paper… or fingers to keyboard. Occasionally though, I’ll have to review a game that leaves me befuddled with how I’m going to approach it. It’s been a while since this has happened but Gone Home is now the latest game to have this honor.
This isn’t a game in the regular sense of the word. There are no monsters to slay, no puzzles to solve, no platforms to jump on, or terrorists to shoot. The heart of the game lies in exploring a house and hearing stories from the protagonists’ sister. There isn’t anything particularly special about the house either. Aside from some hidden rooms, it is a standard upper-middle class type of home. There is no mystery to solve or grand problem to be solved. You walk around a house and pick up stuff that may or may not trigger a voice over. That’s basically it.
With a game that is barely a game at all, you would think that the story would be compelling, but it really isn’t. I won’t spoil it here, but the grand “revelation” about the protagonist’s sister isn’t anything revolutionary. It’s something that certain individuals across the world have to deal with eventually. While this subject is still taboo in the realm of games and in society, it isn’t something that should really be shocking. I personally don’t care which way a person swings, so when the “big reveal” came, it hit with a muted thud and did absolutely nothing for me. “Oh… she’s [blank]. Okay… is that it?”
The most challenge you’ll get from the game is figuring out how to get into certain rooms in the house which are locked off. Simply exploring all of the open rooms will eventually give you the keys or number combinations needed to access locked doors or hidden rooms. It’s not exactly taxing work but the way solutions come to the player are nicely paced to give the story a certain flow.
Graphically speaking, this game isn’t doing anything spectacular either. However, for an indie title, I will say that the graphics are well done and all of the various environments and objects are nicely rendered. There isn’t much you can do as far as interactivity goes except zoom in or rotate objects. The lighting is acceptable but is pretty standard fair as well.
The term “walking simulator” has been tossed around for certain types of games and I guess Gone Home fits into that category. I don’t say that in a derogatory sense, but it is basically what this game is. While this game has to be given credit for not doing what other games are doing, it is still a rather bland experience that fails to leave a lasting impression on the player.
Clocking in at around an hour and fifteen minutes and having virtually no replay value after you complete it, the asking price of $20 for this game is one I think can’t be justified. Even if you’re into games that aren’t what you normally see on the market, I don’t see any real reason to purchase this title unless it’s on sale. Again, I’m not attacking it, but this isn’t a game that stands out all that much. Perhaps I’m not the target audience here, but if this game didn’t win me over then the chances are that most gamers will share my sentiments too.
This review of Gone Home is based on a digital copy for the PlayStation 4 which was provided by Midnight City.