This is a guest post by fandom correspondent LM, author of The Lobster Dance, a blog about about geekery, Japan, and gender, and I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog with a lot of fandom cakes and gender analysis of food marketing. Find her work on Comparative Geeks here.
My younger sister and I used to play Nintendo together as kids, and now that we’re adults, we can play games together on Steam even though we don’t live in the same time zone anymore.
When I joined Steam, the first game she sent me was Gone Home, a game about sisters. You’re Kaitlin “Katie” Greenbriar, the older sister, who arrives back in Oregon after a year abroad in Europe to discover the lights are on but nobody’s home at her parents’ house–and there’s a mysterious note from her younger sister on the door.
(Mild spoilers ensue.)
June 7, 1995. 1:15 AM.
You arrive home after a year abroad. You expect your family to greet you, but the house is empty. Something’s not right. Where is everyone? And what’s happened here?
Gone Home is an interactive exploration simulator. Interrogate every detail of a seemingly normal house to discover the story of the people who live there. Open any drawer and door. Pick up objects and examine them to discover clues. Uncover the events of one family’s lives by investigating what they’ve left behind.
Go home again.
As the description says, the game is an interactive exploration simulator. Your job is to enter the house and then piece together what happened by exploring the home and its objects–mainly by picking up objects to examine them, finding codes and keys, and rifling through the documents, notes, tapes, and ephemera of your family members’ lives. Some objects or rooms trigger audio journal entries from your younger sister Sam, who narrates part of the story of what happened when you were gone.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away, since I went in knowing nothing, but:
-Exploring a dark empty house at night during a storm scares the crap out of me so I had to check about 5 minutes in and confirm this is not a horror game. Atmospheric and creepy, yes, but no ghosts, intruders, jump scares, or loud noises. FIND THE LIGHT SWITCHES.
-Setting the game in 1995 isn’t just for nostalgia’s sake (which is a fine reason anyway), but because of certain technological and political reasons, 1995 is very important.
-Queer representation! Punk rock!
-The spooky rainstorm soundtrack and random “house settling” noises combined with the level of focus I had on FINDING THE LIGHT SWITCHES and fumbling around in the dark caused me to get so engrossed that I actually jumped out of my seat when my girlfriend’s phone got a text message.
-You can play it without a mouse!
The game took me 4 hours to complete, although that included reading a walk through, searching Google to see if it were a horror game, and having no sense of direction.
Warnings contain spoilers.
Contains creepy house, thunderstorm, dark corners, basements, queerphobia, probable child abuse (past).