00:12 After a hefty meal at Waffle House, I am finally poised infront of my laptop, in the LSM lounge, and ready to play Gone Home. I have absolutely zero expectations, for all I know this could be a first person shooter. Time to click ‘New Game’.
16.37 A bout of tiredness struck me down last night so I am about to boot the game back up.
16:58 I may be doing too much exploring and not enough in terms of progressing the story, but I just don’t want to miss anything. So far I know that a girl names Sam moved in to a house where her uncle lived. Her uncle went ‘psycho’ which made it hard for her to find friends at her new school. There is also a locked cabinate in the library which I am DESPERATE to find the code for.
17:05 I’ve ventured upstairs after exhausting all of the downstairs possibilities. Lonnie is the only friend Sam feels ‘normal’ around. She also has a funky taste in music based on the cassette she gave to Sam.
20:38 I’m back from classes and dinner. Time to get stuck in again. I’ve explored most of upstairs and discovered there’s a secret passage in the library. Sam’s bath had what looked to be blood staining on it. Upon inspecting a hair dye bottle, a monologue began describing how Sam had dyed Lonnie’s hair. It implied there was a romantic undertone to their friendship. The plot thickens!
20:47 I picked up a crusifix in the secret passage and the lights went out, it’s the first time the game has made me jump. After finding the code to Sam’s locker it’s been revealed that Lonnie and Sam kissed. Up until now I was unsure who the character I was controlling was, but by the shocked text that appeared when I hovered over a womens sports magazine in Sam’s locker or the condom found in the parents’ room and the fact that I’m reading from Sam’s journal; I can only assume I am her sister, Katie, who is becoming surprised as she learns about Sam.
21:00 I am definitely Katie. I have also now found 3 books on the JFK assassination. I’m curious as to what that signifies.
21:18 Fourth book found, they are being written by the father or uncle of Sam. Sam just gave a very heartfelt monologue on her and Lonnie’s relationship. They are being forced apart due to Lonnie enlisting in the army. As someone who is also thousands of miles from my significant other, the speech really hit home and felt very real. The voice acting by Sam is really amazing. I’ve now found the location of an exorcism. It wouldn’t be a proper horror game without an exorcism, here we go!
21:30 So I’ve finished the game… Slightly underwhelming ending it has to be said. I spent a good amount of time exploring all avenues looking for potential easter eggs only to accidentally end the game by reading letters to Katie. The strange appearance of JFK books was an intriguing find but ultimately led to nothing. Gone Home did not have enough replayability, variety and new explorable content to warrent starting again to figure out the mystery of the JFK books.
The character of Sam was incredibly well voice acted. I believed every single word she uttered. Her personality was constantly being expanded and revealed with every voice note. We followed Katie as she learned about her sister’s true thoughts.
23:00 I’m returning to post my blog. Having read my previous paragraph, I believe my comments on the underwhelming nature of the game may have been harsh and poorly thought through. It is very easy to judge Gone Home by the same standards I’d judge previous games I’ve played. It’s not trying to be FIFA or Portal, it is telling the story of a girl who is finding herself, through the medium of a game. There are aspects of creativity and problem solving but they are minimal. The real purpose of this game is to deliver a story in a way that a movie or a book can’t. The player progresses the story themselves. Yes, there are defined checkpoints (journal entries) that every player will arrive at, but the way each person gets there is unique and reflects aspects of themselves. I, for example, took my time with the main story and made sure I wasn’t missing out on any cool side features that the developers programmed in for the eagle-eyed player. Others may have rushed through, encapsulated in the dialogue.
When I look at Gone Home through the lens of the games I usually play then it does not rate highly. After considering the purpose of the game, my perspective changed. It was a movie where the script had already been written and I was the director.