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Sunday, January 12, 2014

#3 Gone Home

Gone Home should be a lot of things. It should be that thing that game critics prop up because it's in vogue and I should probably resent it for that. I know all the cool critics are talking about Gone Home and Papers Please, but you know what? They should be. They are both great experiments in what the interactive experience is capable of. If you read my work, seeing this game on my list should be no surprise as I'm quite the obvious little feminist.

But what's personally surprising to me is why I haven't put this game further up the list, and there's a couple reasons for that, but I'd like to talk about what GH means to me first. I'm proud something like this exists. The processes of rooting through your childhood home, trying to find what your sister has been up too while you've been away, adds something a novelization of the story couldn't. That fact alone opens a Pandora's box of possibility. But the fact the story is good on it's own, helps shout down it's more ignorant critics.

I don't want to break down the story, not enough people have played it yet. But following the breadcrumb trail of your sister's first love is a standout experience in a year with some notable interactive stories.

But why isn't this #1 for me? Well... as much as I loved GH, it's the equivalent of a short film. Don't think I'm holding it's length against it, far from it. But there's a reason short films don't win Oscars, because there's some major indie trappings that rubbed me the wrong way. Namely, the actor that plays your sister, Sam.

She's good... but inert. Often the visual clues of the environment seemed at odds with the performance I was listening to. There were several foreboding references to suicide (that Ophelia poster, for one) and other things that should have really brought Sam down. But all I seemed to hear from her was a tone that always sounded like "Dear diary, I'm in love!"

If she was able to shift gears a little I would have definitely put this up higher. But here we are, with a great game, instead of a masterpiece. Not a lick of shame in that. Bravo, Fullbright Co. And godspeed.

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