There is something disconcerting about coming home to an empty house. What’s even more troubling is when that house isn’t supposed to be empty at all. Where have they gone? When will they come back? Or maybe, will they ever come back?
Those are the questions that are behind the mystery in The Fullbright Company’s first game. Gone Home is a 3D simulation adventure game, created by Steve Gaynor and a small team of developers who were mostly behind the hit game Bioshock 2. Unlike Bioshock, however, Gone Home is not a fantastical action shooter, opting rather to put the situation much closer to home, perhaps even something that you can personally relate to.
From what could be seen in teasers and sample gameplay videos, Gone Home also does not feature violence of any kind, but rather emphasizes on discovery and exploring around the house in order to explore the mystery behind the protagonist’s family’s disappearance. As Kaitlin Greenbriar, players are able to completely interact with almost everything around the house, and they can explore freely in the spacious, though perhaps too spacious, confines of the Greenbriar family home.
Like most games of its kind, Gone Home encourages players to look into every nook and cranny, and these pretty much work like puzzle games where a specific item or items is/are required in order for you to advance as far as the story goes. Still, as far as the sample videos show, Gone Home has stuck to real life scenarios, and there is nothing that, so far, seemed supernatural about the Greenbriar family’s disappearance. There are no parallel dimensions or portals to speak of and no mass murderer in a hockey mask that is apparent within the game, though players should not hold their breath as to the real goings on within the house as the developers behind the game have been keeping mum as to what’s been really going on. Thus, any possibility should still a possibility in the gamers’ eyes.
Perhaps the best thing about Gone Home is its ability to let the players relate to the characters. As they explore the home, they will be able to see and discover items that will reflect on how the family members lived. By inspecting journals, personal belongings, and even invoices strewn around the place, players will be able to map out character profiles about the family, like a mash up between CSI and your resident psychologist.
Also, despite the environment’s realism in the sense that you can fully relate the Greenbriar house to your own home, there is always that sense of macabre, restlessness, and discomfort as you trudge through each empty room and hallway. It’s that emptiness that will eventually get to you, as well as the curiosity as to why this has been happening in an otherwise normal looking home with an otherwise regular looking family.
The Fullbright Company has made a significant effort in making Gone Home as realistic as possible. Doorways, furniture, and other items were drawn and rendered to scale, although some would say that they looked larger than life as compared to their real life counterparts, but that may be due to perception more than anything else. The physics and sounds within the game have also attained a sense of realism, giving the players a feeling of being truly immersed in the game, as well as in the mystery that shrouds the situation.
While Gone Home is no Slender, the game can really send chills in the spines of players with creative imaginations. Best played alone, and in a dark room, Gone Home resurfaces those childhood nightmares where you are left alone with no clue as to where your family may be. This time, though, you have the ability to try and get the answers behind the Greenbriar family’s disappearance as you search each room and inspect each item while trying to piece together clues as to where they are or where they ended up in.
For those who love games that will require you to think every element through, then Gone Home is definitely the game for you. It is a fresh take on games focusing on exploration, as you are limited to within the confines of the house, though in no way would you feel that you are limited or constricted. There are a lot of rooms to explore and a lot of items to discover in the hopes of eventually unraveling the mystery as to where your family has gone. While the investigation continues, it’s no mystery that The Fullbright Company’s first title will surely be a game to watch out for once release dates have been announced.
Gone Home was developed by The Fullbright Company. It will be released for the Windows PC with a North American release some time in 2013.