Critical Play: Mysteries

For this week’s critical play, I will be analyzing the game Gone Home. It was developed by the Fullbright Company in 2013.  It can be played on various platforms including PC and mobile platforms. I played this game on my PC. The target audience would be 14+ years.The player plays the character of Katie Greenbriar who comes back from the airport to a messy empty house. The game is based on Katie exploring the house reading notes and examining objects left behind by her missing family. It is a first-person exploration video game that has a significant eerie element as a part of its design theme. The atmosphere is beautifully animated from the rain pelts outside the house, journals left behind by the family, various keys to unlock doors to the 90s posters around the house. 

The main element of fun for the game would be sensation in my opinion. Although the game itself was not that scary, I still had a constant adrenaline rush throughout the adventure. Sensory elements such as the sound of static TV, howling wind, defective lights of the rooms add to the frightening experience. Additionally, the fact that it prohibits some of the simple motions for the player makes the game effectively spine-chilling as it strips away one’s control and makes the user develop a sense of helplessness and powerlessness. 

Overall, for me although the game was fun to play with initially, I felt that there was a dissonance in the main theme and gameplay of the game. While the main theme is centered about growing up and leaving behind your past, the gameplay itself is focused on searching and investigating through clues such as notes and commentary. The gameplay remains consistent throughout the game and there is no advancement in it, making it boring after the initial hour. One improvement that I would suggest in the game is adding more elements into the gameplay so as to make it more compatible with the main theme.


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