Fullbright Company’s Gone Home Stirs With Compelling Mystery
It was late into a dark and stormy night when I arrived home. After spending the last year traveling across Europe, I’ve come home to an empty house. No sign of my parents or sister — just an old manor in Portland, Oregon. The Fullbright Company excels in making Gone Home a compelling exploration game. Though I spent under two hours on my first playthrough, the story it gave was one of heartbreak and hope. Revisiting certain elements brought a more enriched story, and rather than just bash it for simply wandering around a desolate mansion, I chose to embrace it as a mysterious setting with many secrets afoot.
Some argued that the game is nothing more than a walking simulator. I can’t disagree with that, but I still believe it to be a wholesome and compelling story, one that is enriched by the vanishing relatives and a decrepit setting. As I strut about trying to find clues and occasionally being spooked by the ongoing thunderstorm outside and creaking floorboards, I couldn’t help but wonder if this could have been me several years ago. As the game progressed, I became engrossed in a tale of love and heartache.
Kaitlyn Greenbriar returns home from Europe and is welcomed to an empty household. Her father, Terrence, is a novelist whose books aren’t catching the public’s attention. Her mother, Janice, is a wildlife conservationist having been promoted to director. And Sam…this is mainly her story — one that includes the allure of a fellow high school student. Sam leaves behind journal entries for her older sister to find, detailing her arrival at a new high school. It is in one of the earliest entries that Sam details meeting Lonnie, a punk in a JROTC uniform after losing to the latter and her friends in Street Fighter. From that point, their friendship blossoms into a relationship. It seems right, or at least, it appears to be right.
As the months go by, Sam reveals she got into a writing program and is set to leave in June. At the same time, Lonnie reveals she’s leaving around the same time for military training. Though concerned about their future, Sam agrees to Lonnie’s plan in having fun while they can. Shortly thereafter, Sam begins to get in trouble and her mother is skeptical about Lonnie’s influence. After revealing their relationship to her parents, Terrence and Janice are dismissive of their daughter and claim it as a phase. The heartache is real, and I’ve been stricken with the same grief at having parents deny who you are. It’s from that point, as the school year ends and Lonnie is ready to ship off that a plan is set in motion. Anyone reading can guess what happened next.
Gone Home was a simplistic game I never knew I needed. It sat in my wish list for quite some time before I treated myself to it. The main story was delightful — it has the necessary drama and romantic plots needed to push me further into exploring Sam’s whereabouts. On a second run of the game, albeit a quick one, was the discovery of disturbing secrets within the family. Adultery, child molestation, family shame, some of it made me wonder just what went on in this manor. Though some of the aforementioned acts could only be inferred, I have no doubt it pushed the game into a darker scenario. I was happy to have spent big bucks on an indie title — despite the short gameplay, I enjoyed an enriching story.