A big warning sign was how this game received universal praise from critics, but low scores from user reviews. I smelled "a game for the critics" art experiment.
I'm fine with short games. I'm fine with stories with little to no actual gameplay. I'm fine with short stories with no actual gameplay if the story is any good. This is not a good story.
The thing about this game is that it's built entirely on false dread. It tries very very hard to make you believe there's supernatural horror elements at work. The official blurb describes it as a mystery. Within the first minute of gameplay, you find a note on the front door begging you to not find the missing people and mysterious answering machine messages of some frantically sobbing girl. Written notes of mysterious shadows, possible ghost sightings, flickering lights, haunted house histories, and other stuff.
This all turns out to phoney red herrings. The ending is one big "LOL just kidding" and you feel ripped off. If you took away all the false dread, no one would finish the game because the actual story is just too boring. Stories can be very effective with red herrings, tone shifts, and subverting expectations, but in Gone Home's case it's all just so tacked on and phoney. The supernatural mystery elements desperately wave their arms around like a rodeo clown trying to distract you from the fact that it's all just a mundane story about dumb teenagers.
The one thing the game does well is recreating a house of the mid 90s. I think this is where a lot of the praise comes from as critics were suckered in by cheap nostalgia thrills of seeing Street FIghter II references, Super Nintendo games, VHS libraries, X-Files posters, and Riot Grrrl fliers. Maybe the game's creators have a bright future in retro interior decorating, but not in writing or game-making.
$20 is insane for this. $5 would have been about right if the ending didn't leave you feeling cheated. I can only recommend this game if you want to spend $5 (no more) for a virtual 90s household simulator.
Julkaistu 15 helmikuu(ta) 2014.