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A House in California is a short, surreal adventure game with a strong emphasis on the narrative. It starts with a boy who lives in a house and cannot get to sleep. He complains about the dark, the lack of noise, ... and for each of these he is comforted by a different family member, each with its own story about the house, in a separate chapter.

The game is almost entirely monochromatic with straightforward graphics. Players need to solve puzzles by clicking on any of the available verbs at the bottom of the screen and using them on objects in the environment. Instead of the conventional "pick up" or "examine", it has verbs such as "remember", "sing", "befriend", or "cook". The words are different in each chapter and new ones are sometimes adding after completing a part of the game. The puzzles are largely an incentive to keep the narrative moving and to contemplate the events.


A House in California Browser At the back of a house
A House in California Browser Commands are displayed at the bottom of the screen
A House in California Browser Introduction with Lois, the first character
A House in California Browser Watching birds on a cloud

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The development was funded through a Kickstarter project. With 77 backers, Elliott raised $1,130, much more than the $600 goal. Everyone who pledged $15 or more received the Limited Edition (40 copies) and people who pledged $45 or more received the Deluxe Edition (10 copies).

Game references

Different older games are referenced during gameplay. One of them is Rocky's Boots. The player has to "play" the game to find out more about a kicking machine, which was a part of the original game. In the same room with the Apple II, there is a painting depicting a scene from the game The Manhole. When it examined, the character mentions Rand Miller and Robyn Miller as well as their later title Myst.


The author cites Mystery House as an important inspiration for the game. The four characters are based on relatives of the author (two grandmothers and two great-grandmothers).

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Contributed to by Sciere (559234)