Price: £14.99 / $19.99 / €19.99 (On Steam)
Platform: PC (See FAQ for spec this take you to my main blogsite)
Firstly this review was written by me but in the interest of political correctness it has been run through a political correctness language correction too, to remove inherent bias in the name of inclusivity. If however you wish to read my highly politically incorrect review click here (Note: This link takes you to my other blog site and off Dtoid, I'm still trying to figure a way to post something and have it hidden on Destructoid and am experimenting with it for the futre) Therefore expect it to make far less sense than normal . What I have to do something different with my review as it's Gone Home by now most people have an opinion on it. Hell from what I'd heard of the game (a lot of perfect or near perfect scores) and what I'd seen of the game (Watching some lets plays) I had a view on this game. So no this time the review makes no sense for a deliberate reason which kind of ruins the fun of grammar MRA Atheist overly hairy scrotums doesn't it?
So I decided to do something that many will yell I should have done earlier on. I played the game.
So has my opinion of Gone Home changed much by playing it? Yes in that I no longer think it' the worst piece of junk out there at least to me.
So with Gone Home I feel it can only be reviewed by breaking the game into two distinct chunks. On one hand the technical aspects and on the other the story.
Technically it's arse. I mean real arse. My machine as laptops go is a bit of a beast and well the game was playable on medium settings. Even then at times it chugged or seemed to lose frames and honestly the recording of it in Raptr is even worse. Maybe the background replay recording impacted the game but if so it's the first time I've ever known such a thing happen at least to that degree. It actually seemed to get worse when I reloaded saves having moved objects round in the game as though it was loading everything into my computers memory in one go and not properly unloading things when not needed / being used. It may be some issue with it being Windows 8, It may be due to using an AMD graphics card. Whatever the case I could either play with poor textures or at less than 10 frames per second, oh and even at the highest setting, the graphics still didn't look amazing. Also I crashed the game 5 times just by changing the graphics settings and the game just stopped running and shut off for no apparent reason. It also should be commended for having the option to turn off motion blur and a working FOV slider.
Mechanically it's extremely simple, you pick up objects and put them down, there are a few puzzles in the game but most barely require though and have the answer either outright given to you, or sat right next to the puzzle itself. At best it's comparable to a hidden object game were interacting with the right object will at times advance the narrative story.
Narrative wise the story is admittedly well done. It is a fairly unique use of the medium to push people to discover the story on their own to quite such an extent. The main story surrounding Sam (your characters sibling) and Lonnie is well done, it's also cliche trash. Well done cliche trash mind but it's the kind of story that was present in 1980's lesbian Pulp Novels such that the trope became almost a joke itself. The additional stories of the Parent falling for a colleague at work and then getting Friend Zoned by him, was ok enough. The story of the main characters Parent and the relationship to the Relative that previously owned the house is a weird interesting one with no definite conclusion only speculation over possible abuse, though with some of the items about it also suggests some kind of accidental drugging thanks to the presence of morphine boxes about. The other story is the Parent and his work as a writer such as his work with AV machine reviews and his previously less than successful novels which were being reprinted. The Parent then seems ready to suggest publishing another novel if the company are willing to do it. It's also strongly suggested the Parent found out about the Parents feelings for one of her colleagues and booked them onto a couples counselling retreat to make sure their marriage is ok.
I will praise part of the narrative of Gone Home for such a successful bait and switch. The game initially very much has the set up of a horror game with the house in darkness a strange mystery and vague implications of the house being the person with symptoms of a mental disorder house and some kind of dark incident in its past. Along with this the game mentions plenty of clues about a possible haunting, even if a lot of the events can be explained away by a wage earner pointing out the house has wiring problems and a few creaky board.
Also worthy of credit are the moments of humour such as the changing on screen text showing your characters reaction to things. For example the slight disgust at finding condoms in her parents room, or the shocked reaction to finding hidden porn stashes belonging to members of the house. Or the shock and then refusal to re-read a piece of her siblings diary detailing her siblings sex life.
I'll also say I'm not sure if it was brave or a foolish design mistake by the developer to structure the game so it's extremely easy to miss a good chunk of the later story as skip almost to the end without finding out some of the more dramatic incidents that occurred.
A fairly technically inept and mechanically vapid game whose only real high point is a well told story. Though it isn't an inherently new story, just a fairly new approach to gaming outside of some obscure Twine games. The Story in the end isn't particularly new and comes off as a well done but in the end ultimately cliche story. It's like say the film Love Actually or the earlier Dresden Files books enjoyable enough and well done but very much cliche and retreading old ground of past works and sticking to a genre formula. It has nice touches in it every now and again from the few bits of humor to the music from what I'm guessing is an actual band, but they're just that nice touches on a fairly generic tale. I'd say how well it managed to play the market and abundance of rather poor youtube fodder poor quality horror games is more to its credit but I don't think such a move will work with the upcoming title Tacoma.
I finished the game in a little over 3 hours (including close to 30 minutes sorting out the graphics and testing the settings.) for the price I paid of about £3 ~$4.50 it was nice enough but nothing special. The problem is the game's regular price is £14.99 ($19.99) and it is most definitely not worth that price. It's very much trying to price itself closer to being an almost premium indie title and at least for me it's really not worth it.
I'm not recommending it and would only say it's worth it for people who are very new to gaming or don't play games at all or those who just really do genuinely enjoy hidden object games as it's one of the best of them.
In the end all Gone Home has done is made me a bit more interested to read the review and watch some lets plays ofTacoma to see if it does manage to do something different or if it does the same kind of switch again.
2 out of 6