Review: Gone Home (2016)

2013 BAFTA award winning Gone Home has finally come to the consoles.

Fullbright’s Gone Home (2013) is a controversial game. For one, it’s hard to classify it as a game: there’s no way of winning, no way of losing; you can’t die, and there are no enemies to kill or scores to beat. And two, it’s hard for some people to reconcile Gone Home’s price for how much enjoyment you’ll get out of the game.

In regards to the first point, there’s no other way of saying it: Gone Home may not be a game. That doesn’t matter, though, because even though it’s is not a video game, it is still a very immersive and nostalgic experience, one that makes excellent and original use of video game architecture. Gone Home’s art style manages to capture the feeling of the setting and the time period, the soundtrack of early 90s punk rock works very well, and Sarah Grayson and Sarah Elmaleh give excellent performances as Sam and Katie Greenbriar.

There’s not much more I can say about it, but ultimately, that’s all that you have to say; it’s just an enjoyable experience. And while it’s true that there’s no way of losing, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it shows experimentation in a form of entertainment that is notoriously stuck with thirty-year-old stereotypes and game mechanics.

There’s a lot that has been said about so-called walking simulators, about how they’re a waste of money. After playing Gone Home and watching live streams of Firewatch (2016) earlier this week, I’ve come to realize that you shouldn’t compare these types of entertainment to traditional video games. In truth, they’re much closer to movies – because they are interactive movies – and so you should compare them (in terms of price) to movies, to going to the cinema, or buying a DVD. And in that respect, the so-called ‘walking simulator’ is a good value for money.

Now, in terms of differences between the console version and the PC version: there isn’t one. The graphics engine has been upgraded to the latest version of Unity, which is nice, but in practical terms, the game is exactly the same as the one released in 2013. What that means is that, while it’s certainly nice that consoles now have this game, ultimately if you already have the game then there’s no real reason to buy it again. Unless you really want to buy it again.

Ultimately, there’s not much you can say about the console edition of Gone Home that hasn’t been said about the original version. It’s still the touching story that won a BAFTA in 2013, and it’s still the game that has always been so controversial. Whilst I enjoyed Gone Home because of its story and setting, I recognize that other gamers would prefer something a little more challenging.

To those gamers, I would advise them to look elsewhere. To gamers who have played Gone Home on the PC, I would advise them to look elsewhere – the aforementioned Firewatch (2016) for example. But for people who have never played Gone Home, people who are interested, I would suggest they try it. I enjoyed it, and I think other people will, too.

Discussion feed
  • I started and finished this game (took me almost 2 hours) in the early hours of the morning last night and I have to say, I enjoyed it. Yes, the gameplay is nothing more than walking and picking up clues as to what has happened but the story is told in a way that pulls you in and demands you finish it in one sitting. It also has a surprisingly unique and mature story to tell.

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