Gone Home Review

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This is a game where you have to stop and smell the roses. There’s an astonishing amount of content crammed into every nook and cranny. It has been lovingly and expertly crafted for your enjoyment and it will take many hours to find and experience it all unless you go running to a walkthrough site and make a beeline for the exit.

Much of the content is hidden behind secret entrances and it’s possible to complete the game quickly without ever being aware of it. Because of this many reviewers vote it down because it seems too short.

Pros

The highlight of this game is the vivid quality of the hand crafted visuals and sounds. It’s a sensory feast. There are no bought assets, clipart or crappy fonts here. The attention to detail is jaw-dropping, from the individual contents of a fridge to the working faucets and everything else visible.

Ambient sound of rainfall is interspersed with gentle background music. You’ll occasionally hear thunder and see a flash of lightning burst through the window, immersing you in the environment.

There’s some full-length music to be found, from 1920s jazz to punk. I’m talking really great music that I want to add to my collection. Wear headphones and you can hear the stereo moving around as you turn. Nice touch.

Top class voice acting for each discovered journal entry. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was one of the devs speaking because it feels totally natural, unlike most games I’ve played where you can tell it’s hired actors because they mispronounce words or get the inflection wrong.

Full movement. You can crouch to inspect low-down items. You can throw items around or put them down anywhere you want, they’re not fixed to the place you picked them up from.

Handwritten notes and drawings EVERYWHERE. There must be hundreds of them. You get to know the lives and personalities of the characters without ever meeting them.

Map: unlike most first-person walking games where you’re stumbling around blindly in a maze until you find a new area, which you promptly lose again, this has a plan of the house that’s gradually revealed as you discover new areas, so you always know where you are and where to look for new rooms.

I’m a straight man with no time for sentimental nonsense but I still enjoyed the detective work of piecing together the story from clues. The message of the game is well portrayed for those interested in it.

Rock solid performance, no glitches.

Linux!

Con

No achievements. 3 years since release so it doesn’t look like there will be any. Maybe they were deliberately left out to encourage the player to take their time and just enjoy it.

Value

This is a contentious topic here. The game can be completed quickly and this is usually the reason I expect a low price. However, finishing it as quickly as possible should not be the aim, there is a ton of content if you go looking for it. This is more akin to artistic experience than gaming and I don’t begrudge the midrange price at all, for me it was well worth the price of admission.

Verdict

If you’re an objective-driven gamer looking to beat the game with your eyes always on the prize then this is not for you. It’s a game of exploration to be unhurriedly appreciated as you would the exhibits at an art gallery.

 

Good

  • Quality and quantity of content - endless interesting items to discover
  • Smorgasbord of hand crafted artwork
  • Immersive atmosphere

Bad

  • Easy to complete the game quickly and miss most of the content
  • Storyline may not be to everyone's taste
8.1

Great