Just Finished “Gone Home”

gonehome_titlescreenRecently, I read a great piece about Adventure Time (you can check out Maria Bustillos’s great article here), and while it was surprisingly long given the brevity of your typical Adventure Time episode, the story provided fascinating insights into modern storytelling. One item in particular caught my eye: when Pendleton Ward, the creator of Adventure Time, was asked about the potential for video games in storytelling, he responded with two paragraphs about how, when you play a good video game, you inhabit the body of the main character in a way television and movies cannot readily duplicate. I agree with his point completely and feel that your experience of a game’s environment and the interaction with its characters connects you to the world in a thoroughly immersive way.

The first game to which Pendleton refers in his response is “Gone Home,” an independent game by the Fullbright Company (available on Steam, Apple’s App Store, and linked here). His description of the “intensely emotional storytelling” of the game had me hooked.

Earlier this evening, I made the jump, purchased the game, and gave it a go. It is not a particularly long game, but it definitely lived up to Pendleton’s judgement as to its gripping and engrossing story. The game took around three or four hours for me to complete, and by the end, I felt completely connected to the characters, who were depicted with captivating backstories and personalities. I highly, highly recommend the game if for no other reason than for a beautiful storytelling experience.

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As you play “Gone Home,” you spend the majority of your time exploring a house and familiarizing yourself with its inhabitants in quite an intimate way. Despite this voyage, when I completed the game, I felt like I had missed something about one of the minor characters; his resolution did not seem quite as well wrapped as the others. I had an inkling of his backstory and could guess at some of the deeper plot points, but I felt there was more. So, to the Internet!

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The wonders of the Internet led me Austin Walker’s blog, Clockwork Worlds, specifically his post about “Gone Home,” called “The Transgression – You Can Do Better.” Word of warning: Walker’s article is spoiler-heavy, so caveat lector. I don’t have anything to add to Walker’s post and instead wanted to point to it. As I said, I had a general impression of the happenings of the characters, but Walker discusses the story so well; in reading his article, my appreciation for the people over at Fullbright and for “Gone Home” in general increased immeasurably. In playing the game, I felt I uncovered the vast majority of story, but seeing how several aspects tie together so well is quite satisfying.

For anyone who has played “Gone Home,” Walker’s article is a definite worthwhile addendum to the game play.