Gone Home, by The FullBright Company is a brilliantly developed, narrative game. You play as Kaitlin Greenbriar who has just returned from a trip to Europe during a stormy night in the June of 1995. You find that no one is home and decide to investigate the events that took place in the Greenbriar household while you were gone. Although Gone Home does not have any of the action or strategy one would find from most video games, it captures the player in its atmosphere and cozy sense of nostalgia.
From the start, when entering the so-called Psycho House, a storm looms overs the area. The first impression when entering the dark foyer is that the place is quite creepy, but as the house slowly becomes lit those eerie sensations are replaced with feelings of calm relaxation. While the player moves through the story and familiarizes themselves with the characters, they listen to the sounds of rain and thunder coming from outside. This is The FullBright Company’s clever way of making the house feel as if it is protecting the player, making them comfortable while exploring new corridors and rooms. The simple, consistent graphics keep the experience very fluid. Even the use of limited lighting immerses you further in the game. This is clearly demonstrated when you encounter the final journal and the only light in the area is aimed directly right at it. With so much emphasis on the journal, you know right away that you have reached the end of your journey.
Gone Home doesn’t tell only tell its story solely through Sam’s various monologues, but through objects scattered throughout the house. The items that are placed in the rooms are a very discreet way of defining the characters. This is most easily seen in Sam’s room, as throughout it there are posters and cassettes of rock bands as well as game cartridges messily thrown around, indirectly telling you that she’s a teenager into punk culture. This technique is also used to develop the parallel storylines of the parents. An example of this is the marriage advice book found in the their bathroom, telling you that their relationship is unstable. Overall, the many aspects of the Gone Home all merge together creating the atmospheric masterpiece we are left with.