Developed by The Fullbright Company (they developed BioShock 2 DLC), Gone Home was released in 2013. It is available for PC, Apple, and Linux computers. It is also available for WiiU, published by Midnight City. Gone Home is a single player mystery game. The mystery is what type of game it is! Unless you've played it already and then you know...
You begin by hearing a message from yourself, Kaitlin Greenbriar, to your mom. You have been on a trip throughout Europe, for a whole year, and are finally returning home to Portland. You let your mom know that your flight gets in at midnight, because it was the cheapest flight (this girl travels like I do!), and that she shouldn't feel obligated to get you. You finally manage to get home. It's 1 am on June 7th, 1995... But where is your family?
Some lights are on but no one is home... There is a note taped to the door from your sister, Sam. She says she loves you and hopes to see you again someday. She also asks you not to snoop and try and find her. Say whhhhhhat?
Scattered throughout the house are everyday items and clues to the lives of your family. You haven't seen these people in a year or so and are in a completely new environment, your family are strangers to you right now. There is also information of your great uncle's life and death, the original owner of the house that your family was bequeathed in the will (also know as the psycho house... Yay?).
The game's story is told through audio journal snippets from your sister's diary that she wrote as if she were in conversation with you, Katie, as well as letters to your parents and whatnot. These are founds by picking up specific items scattered throughout the environment. These entries can be gathered at random, depending on how thorough you are when you play.
Your dad's writing career has fallen apart and he has started drinking, evident by all the bottles scattered about. Your mother may have had a romantic affair with another conservation ranger, ranger Rick. There are books all about that suggest that your parents are trying to reconnect as well as that they are having an increasingly difficult time with Sam.
Sam and Lonnie start going to punk shows together, sharing tapes from bands like Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and The Youngins (if you like punk, definitely check out Bratmobile, they rock!). They also start a feminist zine that they distribute to friends and kids at their school. Sam's journal let's you know that she feels more than friendly towards Lonnie and, eventually, the two fall in love. Sadly, this is the 90s and it isn't taken well by Sam's family or the kids at school, despite the girls trying to keep their relationship a secret.
Eventually you discover that things have been turning around for your parents. Your mother got a promotion, closer to home, and your dad's books have been republished, with a possible new book on the way. Sadly, you also discover that Lonnie is shipping out for basic training in the army, which is why she was in ROTC.
The end, which I won't spoil, is both terrifying (atmosphere and pacing), heartbreaking (not in a sad way) and intensely satisfying.
You also feel nervous and anxious along with her, experiencing her first kiss and first love. Worrying she will have her heart broken. Finding a voice for herself and her writing. Seeing her find comfort in the punk and riot grrrl movement, starting a zone that reflects her expanding understanding of the world and injustice. Fearing for her and the even less accepting environment for LGBT than now.
You also see your parents falling apart and trying to reconnect. With a ghost story woven in for fun! There is some evidence that great uncle Oscar, the original owner of the house, did something so bad that he was ostracised from the family. It is hinted at that Oscar may have abused Terry, your and Sam's father.
Artifacts from the 90s are scattered throughout the home, giving the game a feeling of nostalgia, as well as comfort (for those who grew up in the 90s and I kind of did). This is an experience gamers should have. I'm giving it a 5 out of 5 based solely on how much I enjoyed playing it, even if I probably won't play it again for a long, long time. I shall leave you with this Ninja Turtles reference that made me laugh for a good 20 minutes.
- Amazing atmosphere and environment
- Engrossing story
- Great additions throughout the environment
- Fun puzzles
- Good music and voice acting
- Not a huge amount of replayability (for me at least)