Oprah once said the following about me "Can you see? You should really get a hair cut."
...after that day I knew exactly what I wanted to be. A critic of all things Oprah...sadly the market for that sort of career is flooded by stay at home dads, who feel "Oprah" doesn't address the masculine aspect of embracing life. What a bunch wieners.
On the outside, Eldritch looks like a Bioshock/Minecraft hybrid. I promise you it is so much more.
Look how much more there is to it!
The basic jist of Eldritch is to escape a library that has enclosed around you. Like Spelunky and other rogue-likes, permadeath and randomly generated environments are the staples of Eldritch. Even with the looming threat of permadeath, Eldritch allows you some wiggle room on how you play: Head on, stealth, or (my personal favorite), both! The game is not limited by its difficulty, it encourages you to take risks and try out new styles of play. Eldritch has this weird way of encouraging you to change your gameplay; sometimes it's actually easier to sneak past enemies and go straight for the exit door. Sometimes it's worth it to explore every room looking for TNT or more bullets for your gun. It all just depends on what's generated and what your inventory looks like. I love this about Eldritch because that means there are infinite solutions to each problem set before you. If you come across a locked door, you could: Use a key, use TNT, Use upgraded bullets, jump over the wall from the next room, use the unlock power, your choices are infinite.
It's like you're trapped in the wonderful world of Scientology
Though the environment is amazing and is probably worth the game alone, the enemies are the real life and soul of Eldritch. The creators have had a lot of practice designing A.I. and it shows. During the first level, I was a little disappointed in the lack of enemy creativity, but that quickly changed during the next sequence. If you're a Doctor Who fan at all, the idea of an enemy that acts like the weeping angels should scare the piss out of you. Eldritch has such an enemy and I'd be lying if I said I didn't jump every time I was attacked by one. Beyond some creative baddies, attached to the A.I. design is quite an interesting loot system, that reinforces the gamble element to most rogue-like games. If you kill an enemy and loot its corpse you'll cause that enemy to respawn a few seconds later. If you respectfully leave that enemy alone, it stays dead. Encouraging you to be a decent human being. The aspect I really love about the A.I. is that I found I did much better if I ignored enemies all together, and focused on the environment, and continuously moving through it. Not once did I totally screw myself over by not killing A.I. so I encourage no-kill runs as a way of beating the game.
Careful, if you get too close, these guys will make you read Dianetics books
When I first picked up Eldritch I was so focused on gathering artifacts and filling my inventory, that I quickly dismissed powers as a currency drain. But I'm also an idiot, and like most idiots it takes me some time to appreciate powers that are not linked to direct damage. Self depreciation aside, every power in this game can be used to completely break the world you're in. The first time I was bestowed with "Barrier" as a power I ran for the nearest shop, boxed the shopkeeper in a custom prison, and proceeded to steal everything in his store. There's something both magical, and devious about that sort of discovery. Other powers like "Teleport" and "Lift" make for some hilarious gameplay once you get the hang of them.
I'll bet you thought I was joking about those Dianetics books...
The Pittman brothers have really made an amazing game and it's extremely accessible to boot. Between it's endless playability and the downright brilliance in its nonliterary, Eldritch has been one of my best game experiences this year! It's available here.
Let me save you some time...IGN gave this game a 9.5...
There's your arbitrary number to put a value to an experience. If you're looking for a little more, then yay!!!!!! Start with the very short video below.
One day...like, way down the road, after we deal with real issues (world hunger, gender equality, SPACE!) Schools will hopefully implement a little thing called "required playing". Or "required gaming"? Or, "required...games...you...should play"? Whatever the term they coin; Gone Home will be at the top of that list. Bold statement I know, but bare with me for a second. Gone Home is not a difficult game, there are no enemies and the controls are fairly basic. Game accessibility is maybe the single greatest enemy to the movement of gamers who want their art form to be taken seriously, that and Panda Bears.
Arrrrggghh!! I hate them soooo much!!!
Gone Home works because it is an accessible, yet engaging game. This draw comes from the ability to come to your own conclusions. In any other game, you'll usually find some sort of reinforcement to the actions you take. It might be an NPC radioing in "Good job solider, you found the rogue militia!", the moment you come across a group of dead bodies. The problem with this over-used mechanic is: A. How the hell does he know? and B. I could have come to that conclusion, given the chance to look around. Gone home gives you that chance. The game gives you a setting and lets you go from there. There's no hub with objectives, no set up. Just you the player and a single question: Where is Everybody?
Even the pizza didn't want to stick around
I don't want to share too much, given that this is a 2 hour game (Six minutes, if you know what you're looking for), but I can tell you that I turned on every light in that house and even jumped out of my chair once; knowing full well that there were no enemies in the game. I laughed at some of the writing I found. I came to some horrifying revelations about the previous resident of the mansion (hint, look in the safe in the basement). Maybe most importantly, I learned who each of the residents were as people, simply by examining their things.
Notes like these give a soul to the unseen characters of Gone Home
Games like Gone Home reveal possibilities for all genres of games. What if you were actually allowed to do some archaeology in games like Tomb Raider, or Uncharted? What if you had to thoroughly examine crime scenes as Batman? On their own these aren't the most alluring mechanics, but implementing them into already polished action adventure games could add a new level of depth rather than the "hand holding" feel these games rely upon.
"Hey Phil! Looks like someone was wearing a gas mask!"
Gone Home is a beautiful use of a medium that is far too often limited to killing things. If you want a story driven completely by your curiosity and a home to explore that feels all too real, then break into people's houses while they're at work. If committing a felony is not your thing, play Gone Home. There's only a 7% chance you'll be arrested.