Logo of Gone Home
|Release||Windows, OS X, Linux
Set in the year 1995, the plot focuses on exploration of a house in rural Oregon, and examining common household objects within the home to unlock journal entries and discover the recent events that took place there.
The player takes the role of Katie in the first-person view, who can move around the house and view and interact with objects. There are no defined goals in the game; however, the game encourages and rewards the player when they explore new areas of the house and search for new messages. Much of the interactivity rests upon looking at objects and notes within the house. In order to progress in the game, the player must find certain objects that unlock access to other parts of the house.
On June 7, 1995, 21-year-old Katie Greenbriar returns home from overseas to her family in fictional Boon County, Oregon: her father, Terry, a failed writer who makes a living reviewing home electronics; her mother, Janice, a wildlife conservationist who recently got promoted to director; and her 17-year-old sister Samantha. Upon arriving, she finds the house deserted, with a note on the door from Sam imploring Katie not to investigate what happened.
Searching the house, Katie begins to piece together what happened during her absence: After moving in, Samantha found it difficult to adjust to her new high school, but eventually made friends with another girl, Yolanda "Lonnie" DeSoto, a JROTC cadet. The two bonded over Street Fighter, punk rock, grunge and the burgeoning riot grrrl movement, and after sneaking off to a concert, the two became romantically involved. After various incidents at school, Sam's parents found out about her relationship, forbade Sam to close her bedroom door while Lonnie was over, and are in denial that their daughter is a lesbian. As Lonnie was set to eventually ship out to begin her service, Sam was left distraught.
Two days after her farewell show, which coincides with the day of Kaitlin's homecoming, and the week when Sam's parents are going on vacation (which is revealed to actually be a counseling trip instead of being a camping trip, like they told others) Lonnie departs to her station, but eventually calls Sam from a payphone to tell her that she got off the bus in Salem and she wants them to be together. Sam's final journal entry to Katie explains that she packed up her things and took her car to find Lonnie, hoping to start a new life with her outside of Oregon.
Optionally, Katie can find various other clues that provide information on additional events that happened during the time: it is implied that Janice was beginning to have romantic feelings towards a subordinate, and that Terry was abused by Oscar Masan, his uncle and former owner of the house.
Fullbright was founded in Portland by Steve Gaynor, Karla Zimonja, and Johnnemann Nordhagen as "The Fullbright Company". The three had previously worked together at 2K Games on BioShock 2: Minerva's Den. To reduce costs, the team moved into a house together and set up the office in the basement. Gone Home was Fullbright'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". Gaynor considered their previous work on the BioShock games as effectively the pre-production stage for Gone Home, allowing them to complete it within seventeen months; Gaynor noted that Minerva's Den was more focused on environmental storytelling than action-driven gameplay, and set the approach and necessary design elements they needed for Gone Home.
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 was originally prototyped in Amnesia: The Dark Descent's HPL Engine 2 and the final game was made with the Unity game engine.
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 grrrl 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.
The game is 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.
A developer commentary mode was added to the game in October 2013. On 4 March 2015, it was announced that the console version of the game had been canceled in the midst of its publisher's financial troubles.
Withdrawal from PAX
In June 2013, Fullbright announced that they would not be showing Gone Home at the Indie MEGABOOTH showcase at PAX Prime, citing remarks from their convention organizers regarding LGBT issues and sexism.
A console version of the game was in development by Midnight City; however, this was later canceled following Midnight City's closure in March 2015.
On 7 December 2015 it was revealed that the long-forgotten console port had been scheduled for a release on 12 January 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, co-developed by Majesco Entertainment. Holding the title Gone Home: Console Edition, it features enhanced graphics and audio, and was ported from Unity 4 to Unity 5 for maximum performance and look. Additionally, the Console Edition has been given enhanced controls especially for controller use, as the original PC version was created for keyboard, and not as well playable with a gamepad.
The game was made one of the selected PlayStation Plus games for the month of June 2016. The game was included with the PlayStation Plus subscription from June 7 until July 5 for all subscribers to the service, available to keep as long as the subscriber has an active subscription.
In October 2017, the game was selected to be a part of Microsoft's Games with Gold program. The game was included with the Xbox Live Gold subscription on Xbox One consoles throughout the month of October.
Gone Home received very positive reviews from game journalists. At Metacritic, the game holds an 86/100 score based on 56 critic reviews. At GameRankings, it maintains an 87.39% based on 33 critic reviews.
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." However, 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."
- Onyett, Charles (15 November 2012). "Gone Home is Undiluted Adventure". IGN. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Matulef, Jeffrey (15 November 2012). "Gone Home transports players back to 1995". Eurogamer. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Edge staff (November 2013). "Studio Profile: The Fullbright Company". Edge (259): 114–117.
- Peel, Jeremy (9 August 2017). "The BioShock games were pre-production for Gone Home". PCGamesN. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
- Danny Cowen (2013-10-24). "Gone Home began as an Amnesia mod, and you can play it". Joystiq. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
- Wilde, Tyler (21 March 2013). "Gone Home trailer announces music from '90s riot grrrl bands Heavens to Betsy and Bratmobile". PC Gamer. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
- Gaynor, Steve (14 August 2013). "The Music of Gone Home". The Fullbright Company. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- Marty Sliva (2013-10-24). "Gone Home Updated With New Commentary Mode". IGN. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
- "Gone Home Console Version Canceled".
- Gaynor, Steve (21 June 2013). "Why we are not showing Gone Home at PAX". Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- Ligman, Kris (21 June 2013). "Gone Home devs pull out of PAX Indie Megabooth". Gamasutra. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- Matulef, Jeffery. "Gone Home is no longer in development for consoles". Eurogamer. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Holmes, Jonathan (7 December 2015). "Gone Home going to Xbox One and PS4 in January". Destructoid. ModernMethod. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- "Gone Home for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "Gone Home for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Morganti, Emily (16 August 2013). "Gone Home review". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
- "Gone Home Review". 15 August 2013. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- Welsh, Oli (15 August 2013). "Gone Home review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
- Wallace, Kimberley (15 August 2013). "A Home Can Hold More Than You Think". Game Informer. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- Petit, Carolyn (15 August 2013). "Gone Home Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- Klepek, Patrick (15 August 2013). "Gone Home Review". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- Sliva, Marty (15 August 2013). "Gone Home Review". IGN. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- Logan Decker (14 September 2013). "Gone Home review". PC Gamer. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- Riendeau, Danielle (15 August 2013). "Gone Home review : Living Room". Polygon. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- Braga, Matthew (15 August 2013). "Gone Home review – A startling and unexpected storytelling triumph". Financial Post. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
- Chris Schilling (26 August 2013). "Gone Home review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- Lee, Dave (12 March 2014). "Bafta games: The Last of Us clears up at awards". BBC. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- Grant, Christopher (15 January 2014). "Polygon's 2013 Game of the Year: Gone Home". Polygon. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- Gaynor, Steve (11 September 2013). "Updates: IGN, Fantastic Fest, Indiecade, and initial sales numbers". The Fullbright Company. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- Conditt, Jessica (6 February 2014). "Gone Home finds 250K sales, most on Steam". Joystiq. AOL. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- "BAFTA Video Game Awards - Nominations" (PDF). BAFTA. 12 February 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
Media related to Gone Home at Wikimedia Commons