Gone Home isn’t my usual sort of game. There are no bikini ninjas and absolutely nothing explodes.
It’s one of those games, like Dear Esther, that gets rather uncharitably lumped into the category of “Walking Simulator”, and similarly it has a mute protagonist wandering around while you piece together a deeply personal story. While Dear Esther has you roaming a rather starkly beautiful island, Gone Home takes place in a massive empty house full of lots of little things to pick up and read or fiddle with and then carefully put back where you got them. It’s much more the game for the casual voyeur than the scenery tourist. 🙂
There’s not a lot of “game” to Gone Home, in the traditional sense, though it does have a few puzzles to solve. Mostly, you wander an empty house turning lights on and discovering that your parents’ marriage has been decaying and your sister has been seeing someone they don’t approve of. You read a bunch of notes, get a sense for your father’s frustrations and your mother’s regrets, find combinations to open locks and maps to expose secrets, and listen to a very sweet romantic story unfold.
The whole thing is steeped in that mid 90s just-before-the-Internet-age nostalgia vibe that should have anyone of a certain age waxing poetically about mix tapes, photocopied zines and Super Nintendos. I suspect it’s got much more impact for the Gen X kid than practically any other generation, and anyone born after that might find the whole thing a little dull.
For me, I was square in the middle of the target audience and found it well worth the 70 minutes it took to go through the house’s nooks and crannies.