Gone Home is less of a game and more of an experience set exclusively in a big house using first person perspective. Not like Myst or Shadowgate, but like a first person shooter where you can walk around like Dear Esther or Half Life 2 without the guns. If you like to explore, read notes, listen to audio journals and be immersed in a fiction you might enjoy it. The basic premise is that you’re in an empty house and you need to discover why. There’s no real emphasis on why, you just explore. The house has a history to it and so do the characters you’ll hear about. You’ll never see the characters outside of a photo here and there. Heck you never even see yourself outside of a passport. There might be 3+ bathrooms in this house but there are no mirrors.
The story is set in 1995 and while I’m not into story, the developers did a good job of presenting it as immerse as they could. You’ll hear 90s punk music, find Super Nintendo cartridges and see plenty VHS movie names. It hinges heavily on 90s nostalgia and lesbians. Most of what you will find goes through a history of a teenager’s love interest with another young woman. There are side stories such as the house’s history and the previous owner’s death.
The house is pretty open from the start, you are able to explore freely with very little limitations. You’ll find secret paths, compartments, visit several rooms, turn on dozens of lights, read notes, listen to well voiced audio journals and examine things, but never really do anything with them. You can open doors, throw objects and put them back. Again, your job is to discover what happened. Unravel the story. The only real challenge is to find half hidden notes under couches, keys and combinations to locks and safes. There is no way to lose, you will get through Gone Home if you keep going.
There is no run button, just walk, look, crouch and zoom in. Again, its an exploration experience. In the menu you have a map of visited rooms, a list of journal entries, and a small inventory that you don’t really need. You just collect keys. Its not like you need to see the keys, because the game recognizes that you have them when you look at a door.
Gone Home is over in under 2 hours and that was with me exploring and reading everything. It is an easy sit through and play, but for $20 there is no way I can recommend it. Even for $10. It is interactive fiction, with zero replay value.