4. Gone Home
The Fullbright Company
Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Steam
Gone Home accomplishes a remarkable feat – building up a series of narratives in the player’s mind through mere suggestion, but ultimately proving none of them to be true. There are no NPCs walking around, nothing jumping out of the shadows, nothing more than an empty house and the traces of those who once inhabited it. This should give you a clue as to why anyone bragging about a speed run through the game has completely and utterly missed the point. It would be like saying you got the most out of life by driving full speed off the edge of a cliff to your demise. hey, it worked for Thelma and Louise.
“The classic horror elements are all present: You’re exploring an old house replete with areas that aren’t immediately accessible. There are hints that dark practices may have been initiated. Each new room renews the fear that someone…or something will be lunging at you from the darkness. Outside, a thunderstorm rages and won’t let up. At times it seems like the lightning strikes are underlining your discoveries…
“Fullbright has done a remarkable job fortifying the illusion of the era within the house: the external answering machine, references to Street Fighter 2, Magic Eye images and episodes of the X-files are strewn throughout the seasoned manse, adding the soul of the “modern” family that currently calls the place home.
“Moreover, Gone Home is a spot-on loving tribute to Gen-X latchkey kids – from the packaged foods, to the pop cultural references to the authentic Riot Grrl and ‘zines and soundtrack (Sleater Kinney, Heavens to Betsy are just two of the bands for example), supported flawlessly by composer Chris Remo.
“To create an environment that requires information to unfold in a certain sequence while still affording a sense of agency in how and when that information is received is quite a feat, and that is accomplished so seamlessly herein that it has arguably pushed the emergent genre forward a step. There is much that is left to conjecture and speculation, but at the same time, the conclusion is satisfyingly clear.”
Regardless of the game’s implied conclusion, and one that is still under debate among those of us at IGR who played through it, Gone Home is about the specters of our own memories in a time and place that is becoming irretrievable as the age of social media renders such experiences obsolete.
But more importantly it accomplishes what Bryan Singer did in a little film he put out around the time the game is set:
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” – Verbal Kint, The Usual Suspects.
Or as Pink Floyd sang:
“The lunatic, is in my head…” ~ Indie-Game-Freak