Critical Play: Mysteries – Gone Home

Game: Gone Home

Creator: Fullbright Studio

Platform: played on iOS, also on PC, PS, Xbox and Switch

Target Audience: 12+, single player

Formal Elements

You play Katie Greenbriar, the older sister who came back from a year long vacation to find an empty messy house. The goal is to find out what happened to your younger sister and parents. The core of the game is to walk around and interact with different objects (picking up, examining, opening/closing). There are various keys and scraps that you can pick up to unlock new rooms and safes throughout the house. The journals, letters, and notes left behind by the the family also explain what happened in the last year and where everyone could be. Parts of the mansion (basement, attic, Dad’s drawer, Sam’s locker) are locked until a key or new map is discovered. It is very easy to progress through the game because you only need to interact with different objects. Even the puzzles (opening safes with combo) were easy as the keys were numbers scattered throughout the house.

My favorite part of the game is 1) reading Sam’s, the younger sister’s, journal and 2) finding the secret passages throughout the house. It was a very intimate experience. The journals are also recorded in the inventory, allowing me to review anytime I want. Not every detail was needed to progress through the game. While there were readings I skipped (for example, some of the father’s writing), I got a good understanding of the narrative. Furthermore, the game gave hints (“New map area added”) to the player when there was a big progression. Overall, the experience was very pleasant as suitable for both completionist and narrative-first player.

However, I finished the game without realizing and was completely locked out. While I got the general gist, I left out some details – for example, I didn’t open one safe. I wish the game allowed me to go back to the mansion and unlock all details. My suggestion would be to allow players to finish the game to return and explore the rest of the mansion.

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