One of 2013’s most unique games was Gone Home. A game in which you explore your empty house trying to
piece together your family’s whereabouts; it evokes a lot of emotions and does
deserve a spot on everyone’s top games of 2013 list. However I feel that the
game is not without fault, and some of those faults dampen an otherwise unnerving
experience (in a good way). Spoilers Below.
Hey Mister, I can’t find my Mom or Dad.
When I first walked through the
house in Gone Home, there was an
immediate sense of eeriness and discomfort. I felt vulnerable not knowing where
my family was or if they were okay. Gone
Home was able to bring out certain emotions and feelings I had never
experienced while playing a game, and brought me back to a time of
vulnerability. We’ve all had that one occasion where we lost a parent at a
supermarket, or that sense of an unknown looming presence while alone at home.
You know, that instance of when you were alone in the middle of the night and
felt that there was something behind the closet that would come and get you.
Every turn, every dark corner in Gone
Home felt like there was the potential of something to lunge after you and
strike fear into your very being. Yet throughout the entire experience, that
never happened. That was probably my favorite part of Gone Home. I was so certain that something was ready to jump out of the closet to kill me. Every time I went upstairs, upon returning downstairs, I feared that maybe somebody had walked through the front door and was waiting to attack me. It was daring for the game to never have that instance and to rather toy
expectations. Sadly, what we did get was some teenage melodrama.
In trying to piece together what happened, the player can
listen to tape recordings of their sister explaining the events of the past year.
It was while listening to the audio recordings that I was completely pulled out of the experience. It wasn’t the content of the material, but rather the
execution. Listening to our protagonist’s sister ramble on about how her
parents just don’t understand made me roll my eyes. I do agree that it’s
interesting to listen in on the inner thoughts of a lesbian teenager coming to
terms with who she is, but the dialogue was too cliché. The writing was akin to
teen melodramas of the nineties. Not only that, it painted girls with lesbian
orientations somewhat stereotypically. Not all lesbian girls like to listen to
girl punk-rock as a means of expressing themselves, and letting out their inner
frustrations. I had heard this slice-of-life story thread before, and
repackaging that into audio recordings within a game did not make it any more
A lot of people are hailing Gone Home for tackling issues
concerning the LGBT community. Although I admire The Fullbright Company for wanting to use video
games as a medium to explore the complexities of those issues, execution is
absolutely key. Gone Home does do a great job of eliciting certain emotions from a player and really shows how environment alone can really really push a narrative forward. Gone Home, however, should not get a free pass on eye-roll worthy
dialogue just because it discusses homosexual feelings.