|Developer(s)||The Fullbright Company|
|Release date(s)||August 15, 2013|
|Genre(s)||Adventure, interactive fiction|
Gone Home is a first-person interactive story adventure video game developed and published by The Fullbright Company. The plot focuses on exploration of its setting. It takes place in June 1995 at a house in the Pacific Northwest, with a young woman who returns after traveling abroad to find her entire family gone from their home.
||This section may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (August 2013)|
On June 7, 1995, Kaitlin Greenbriar returns home―a mansion in Arbor Hill, Oregon willed to Kaitlin's father by his uncle, Oscar Masan―not long after midnight on a stormy night after a yearlong trip abroad. She spots a note on the door from her sister, Samantha, telling her to not go looking for answers as to where she is. As she enters the house Kaitlin realizes nobody is home, not even her parents, so she investigates the house to find out where they all are. Players guide Kaitlin through this process, learning some things known to Kaitlin along with new facts about her family and their experiences over the past year. Through a series of letters written to Kaitlin in a journal from Samantha over the year Kaitlin was away, we learn that Samantha and her family moved to a large house. Samantha then went to her new school and was eventually recognized as "The Psycho House Girl" after a man, who we discover is Samantha and Kaitlin's great uncle; upon his death everything was left to her father, even the house. During her first few weeks at school, Samantha spotted a girl in senior year, sometimes dressed in an Army uniform. Unfortunately, Samantha never really had any chance to speak to her. Samantha once had a friend named Daniel, who was her neighbor before they moved, and Samantha explains she was only his friend for his Nintendo games but realizes she really should call him at some point about it.
Samantha eventually gets to talk to the girl in the army uniform; she's named Lonnie, and she's always wanted to see "the Psycho House", so Samantha obliges and invites her to come over the next day. Samantha really feels like she's made a friend with whom she can feel normal. They share activities over the months, such as hair dyeing and watching Pulp Fiction. They eventually begin to form a strong relationship, with Lonnie claiming that Samantha looks beautiful. After seeing a Halloween show in "the city", they stay overnight at a friend's brother's house, and sleep together on a futon. The lights go out, and Lonnie puts her arm around Samantha and tells her she likes her. Samantha feels the same way but cannot bring herself to say anything afterwards. A few days later, Lonnie visits Samantha in her home, but it's a weird encounter. Lonnie obviously feels uncomfortable about whatever is going through her mind, and kisses Samantha. It's there that their relationship begins to bloom as they become girlfriends in secret.
As the player, playing Kaitlin, looks through her parents' things, we find old novels her dad, Terry, wrote and had published. The novels were based around the assassination of JFK and how the lead character knows the truth and must stop it. After two books sold poorly, his publishing firm dropped his series. Terry eventually gave up writing altogether, suffering from writer's block.
We learn, along with Kaitlin, that sometime during the year, Terry received a letter from another publishing firm, telling him that they wanted to republish his two books under a new cover. Terry gleefully accepted, and even pitched a new novel set 20 years after the second book. He hopes the new publishing firm, which was only set on republishing old books for now, will release it. We also learn that the reason Kaitlin parents are not home is that they are on an anniversary trip, due to return home the next day, although a brochure for a Couples Counseling getaway taking place during the same period as the anniversary can be found, and there are hints that Kaitlin's mother might have been romantically involved with a coworker.
We learn that Samantha and Lonnie became closer than ever, and they began organizing ghost hunts around the house for fun. Two months later, as Samantha is beginning to make preparations for college in a creative writing course, Lonnie reminds Samantha that she's shipping out on June 6. Samantha realizes she doesn't have long left with her, and Lonnie tells her they need to have as much fun as they can until then. We learn that Lonnie got into some trouble at school and Samantha defended her.
Samantha's parents try to talk to her about her behavior, and Samantha eventually tells them of her and Lonnie's relationship; they put it down as "a phase", not believing and accepting that Samantha is a lesbian. They say that she "just hasn't met the right boy". A few weeks later, Daniel visits Samantha at her house to pick up his long lost Nintendo games. Samantha feels sad about their old relationship and how they stopped being friends. She also explains about her father's problems and her problems with Lonnie, and Daniel gives her a hug and says that everything will be okay.
48 hours before Lonnie's departure, Samantha becomes upset. She wishes she could go with Lonnie, but knows she can't. They spend one last night together and tell each other that it will be the happiest night of their lives. For a while, they have fun, but eventually begin crying after Samantha claims she won't be able to live without Lonnie.
We learn that the next morning, Samantha awoke to find Lonnie gone. Later on that day, Samantha finds messages on the answering machine from an upset Lonnie. The phone rings a third time, and Samantha only just manages to answer.
Lonnie explains that she just couldn't go through with joining the Army and got off the bus in Salem. She asks Samantha if she is up for running away with her, where they'll find a place of their own, and Samantha agrees. She packs up her things and many of the valuables from the house and drives to pick up Lonnie. In her final words, Samantha apologizes to Kaitlin that she can't see her in person, and hopes that Kaitlin understands why she ran away once she reads the journal. Her final words are "I love you so much, Katie. I'll see you again. Someday. Love, Sam".
The Fullbright Company was founded in Portland by Steve Gaynor, Karla Zimonja, and Johnnemann Nordhagen. The three had previously worked together at 2K Games on Minerva's Den for BioShock 2. To reduce costs, the team moved into a house together, and set up the office in the basement. Gone Home was The Fullbright Company's first game, and taking into account their skills and financial constraints, the team decided upon a game with "no other people, no other characters, [just] you in a single environment". Fullbright set the game in 1995 because they considered it the latest year in which technology had not made the majority of communication digital in nature.
The game features music from the riot grrrl bands Heavens to Betsy and Bratmobile. After showing the game at Grrrl Front Fest, a Portland riot grrl music festival, it attracted the attention of a local band, The Youngins, who went on to provide the music for Girlscout, the fictional band in the game.
It is also accompanied by an original musical score composed by Chris Remo, featuring over 30 minutes of music that accompany the game's main exploration gameplay, with unique music also scored to each of the game's audio logs.
Withdrawal from PAX
In June 2013, The Fullbright Company announced that they would not be showing Gone Home at the Indie MEGABOOTH showcase at PAX Prime. The announcement came in response to remarks made by Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik.
Gone Home received acclaim from critics. At Metacritic, as of October 25, 2013, the game holds an 86/100 score based on 54 critic reviews. At GameRankings, it maintains a 87.63% based on 32 critic reviews.
Gone Home has been praised particularly for its engrossing story. Emily Morganti for Adventure Gamers commented that Gone Home had a "realistic, engrossing story that’s beautifully told through environmental clues and audio narration" and that "many people read books for the opportunity to see life through someone else’s eyes, but it’s rare for a game to do it as well as this one does." The Financial Post's Matthew Braga also noted that "This is a game that some will hold up as forward-thinking evidence in the ongoing debate of games-as-art", adding that the game was made to "plumb the depths of experience outside of gaming’s typically targeted white, male, youthful core." Conversely, Eurogamer editor Oli Welsh stated "The Fullbright Company has built a fine house for intimate storytelling in games, but it hasn't found the story to live in it yet."
On September 11, 2013 The Fullbright Company announced that the game has sold more than 50,000 copies.
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- Gaynor, Steve (11 September 2013). "Updates: IGN, Fantastic Fest, Indiecade, and initial sales numbers". The Fullbright Company. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
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