For many years the first person shooter genre has dominated the gaming industry with games like Call of duty, Half life and Bio Shock selling on mass with every new release. So it surprised me when I first started reading about first person narrative games, games that didn't put you in a kill everything that moves situation but pulls you in and captivates you with a story.
As first I was a little bit skeptical, surely a first person shooter captivates you into the storey? Max Payne for example, I love the story in these games and I play them again and again. Also I looked at narrative games as a bit boring, why would I want to just sit there and listen to someone talking? I can do that watching TV, I play games to get away from that.
The first, first person narrative game that I came across was Dear Ester, at first I was intregued but after watching the trailers and reading reviews I decided against buying the game. Not that the reviews were bad, it scored an average 8/10 across the board, I just decided it wasnt for me.
I guess what changed my mind was the Walking Dead Season 1, whilst I wouldnt want to put this game into the Narrative genre it really changed my views on story telling in games, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I have never had such a connection with the story line of a game I found my self laughing, panicing and even crying at that game. It was then that I though well if I can get this with Walking dead what would I get from a game that was fully narrative?
This is where I come to Gone Home,
Reading the reviews of this game I was instantly sold and like most weekend my bank accout got another Steam hit....
Gone Home was released in August 2013, is set in June 1995 and tells the story of Kaitlin Greenbrair, a teenager retuning home from travelling around Europe to find a note on her door;
"I'm sorry I can't be there to see you, but it's impossible.
Please, please dont go digging around trying to find out where I am.
I don't want Mom and Dad anyone to know
We'll see each other again some day
Don't be worried"
The note is from her sister Sam. Whilst the note requests that you do not look for her when you open the door you find that the house is empty which then sets up the game, to find out where Kaitlin's parents and sister are.
As you explore the house you start putting the peices together through letters and diary entries supplied by Sam as to her whereabouts, you also start finding clues as to where her parents are.
I can really see why there has been so much positivity about this game.
Through the well written narrative you can really get a feel for the youthful innocence of Sam and as the story progresses and you uncover what has happened you can see her growing up.
Also, with the game being set in 1995, before mobile phones etc, you can really get behind the believability of this game, Kaitlin has come home to no one and has no way of contacting them, there are also some great nostalgic items throughout the house like the re-recorded VHS tapes with "Holday 1990" or "Dad's tape"
Visally this game is great from the house colours to the well timed lightning outside it all adds to the overall experience and helps pull you closer to the story.
The game is only around 2 hours long but if it was any longer it could have started to get a bit boring.
For me I found this game pretty enjoyable, it was a nice break away from killing 10 boars or collecting so and so, but I wouldn't say I am a narrative convert. Whilst you do get caught up into the story I feel like the excitement and rush you can get from making quick decisions in other games adds more of a lasting impression. I enjoyed this game but would I play it again probably not.
Don't get me wrong this is a massive step up for the first person narrative genre and in years to come this game will be seen as one of the first (along with dear ester) that really shock up the first person genre.
I think in the next couple of years this genre will really take off and will come into its own.
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