I thought Gone Home was pretty sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed, even though is was scary. It was a very simple concept, yet the game was so damn deep. It was definitely made for an explorer, because all the letter and such reveal little pieces of the story that eventually all piece together to make something amazing. It was Metroid’y like with going here to get this so you can go here and you can’t access this until you have that. I liked that, as well as trying to piece the story all together. Similar to Bioshock, I thought that all of the narrative journals really helped make this game what it was. Especially near the end, the story between Sam and the Street Fighting punk girl got close to my heart. There were also some WTF moments, like the pentagram behind the stairs and the TVs. If you’re going to steal all the DVD player and Nintendo, at least be courteous enough to turn off the TV. Besides that, I also enjoyed all the little references from the 90s. Weezer, Eddie Vedder, chesseburgers are important, and so on. Overall, I liked it, and thought for what it was, it was incredibly well done.
Gone Home took a year and 4 months to finalize. The developers had to think of a way to design the levels that would take the player through the game regardless of how the player found items in the game. They thought that logically most players would open doors in hallway as they got to them instead of going to the end of the hallway and working backwards. The Indoor Kids brought up the light situation and how creepy the game felt and the developers said that one of their first game testers came to them and said “I can’t play this game. The dark rooms creep me out too much.”, so they added in the modifiers in the options like map off and all lights on. They set the setting in 1995 because it was the note era. There were no cellphones or things like twitter and Facebook and it makes the game feel more realistic cause then the player doesn’t have to wonder why they don’t just use a cellphone to contact everyone. There are no threats in the game but because of the setting the player doesn’t feel safe in the house.
When I finished the game I couldn’t help but think to myself that it finished up very nicely. It wasn’t a completely unexpected ending but it was kind of a twist ending. I mean the whole game felt very creepy and eerie while the player, (Katie), is searching through this strange house that Katie’s family moved into after she began studying abroad. Throughout the house are notes from Sam, Katie’s sister, telling here not to go looking around and that she is sorry and through exploring the house while ignoring Sam’s advice the player finds secret rooms and tunnels and all kinds of weird things that are meant to creep the player out. I bet most players towards the end are only thinking creepy thoughts on how the game could end like is Sam upstairs waiting or maybe possibly dead via suicide cause she can’t live without Lonnie. But, instead it ends up being that Sam ran away to go find Lonnie and live together with her, to be happy and find their own places out in the world. For me that was when a lot of pieces connected together on some of the random notes found in the house like Sam apologizing for stealing some things. I felt like this twist ending was a great way to end the game and that, looking back, the title fits really well with it. Gone Home doesn’t necessarily only mean that Katie has gone home but it also seems to mean that Sam has gone home, that she has finally found a home to go to.
Right before I went into the attic I decided to re-listen to all the audio diaries and while I was listening to them I couldn’t help but think that maybe the game could end in a happy way. Listening to them all in a row without having to search through the creepy house made them seem less “bad”. I mean when I was playing through the game and finding them and listening to them all I could think was that someone had to be dead somewhere in the house and I think that is what the developers wanted people to think. But there at the end before the attic re-listening to them I could almost see where the ending was heading. Personally I am glad that it ended the way it did, a nice twist at the end always makes for a great ending, especially when done well.