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The Good(review is below)
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The Bottom LineUnited States countryside, a very large piece of estate. It is very rainy; and late in the day: only shadows are out there. Katie is just back from her one year of travelling in Europe; she lives in the estate with the parents and the sister of hers. Will any of her relatives be there to welcome her? They were all missing her much, yet the first to greet Katie is a sheet of paper on the entrance, with excuses for not being there. On the other side, exploring one’s family house undisturbed may reveal much of unknown. Gone Home is a game of exploration, of a large house, yet also of a whole family’s existential condition, revealed by hints and traces all around the building, which, like in any family, reveal while hiding.
It is one product of the kind that is customarily named as “indie” in our time, and we would be able to guess so by the abundance of programming errors and small malfunctions encountered all along the game play experience; these are rather tedious, as they concern gameplay elements, thus annoyances are not a rare, rather a constant occurrence. Besides, we note a certain technical poverty; lighting and sound variations as Katie moves or turns her head to a different direction are managed in such a miser way that one may think a restart is needed, the first one or two times. It is not easy to figure on what grounds they thought to allow only a save file, so that it is impossible to continue searching for hidden secrets after finishing the game and start a new game separately.
As to the banality of the hints and clues the game hinges on, specially those referring to Katie’s parents (the “adults”) seen in fact rightly done; as I see it these scorches have to be banal in order to be truthful. This wants to be and is the story of a common family composed of common individuals. Besides, not all traces of the past Katie encounters speak lightly: here and there, tragedy shines behind the veil of the ordinary.
The slow, minimally perceivable manner lives wreck happens to be pictured very well although at rare moments. Gone Home’s most appreciable side are perhaps the dry precision with which it displays human cruelty and the all-devouring emptiness of any existence that follows, leaving it to no other destiny but essential solitude, and a non-negligible effort in featuring details for the kind of player that seeks for them: there is really many: this game is not poor in all what does not take talent, and for sure not poor in good will.