Every place has a story to tell, homes especially. For the people that live there every random item on the wall, every dent in the furniture can be part of their shared history as a family. Gone Home is a game about pure discovery. Discovery into the lives of the Greenbriars. There are no enemies to fight, no puzzles to solve just a house to explore.
You play as Kaitlin Greenbriar the elder of the 2 sisters in the Greenbriar family. Kaitlin has just come home from a year long trip around Europe and returns to an ominously empty house. It is now up to Kaitlin to explore the house and discover the events that happened in her absence.
The game is more about the other characters than the main character which is unlike most other games.
Since Kaitlin is the main character I’m going to start with her. Nothing much is told about Kaitlin mostly because the house is a place she has never been to. Kaitlin’s personality is depicted through post cards she sends home from her travels but for the most part Kaitlin is the vehicle in which you experience the story of Gone Home.
Moving through the house you notice that the game tells a very believable story from a very specific time the 1990s to be exact as we can tell from the collection of video tapes and notes to given to Sam(Kaitlin’s sister) by her friends.
The game slowly reveals the story in the form of notes, audio logs and paraphernalia around the house. A lot of the items around the house add context to the situation the family, the personalities of the characters and the troubles the characters are facing. E.g. Books found on Parenting show that the Father and Mother are having trouble with Sam, books about dealing with loneliness lend some context to Sam’s problems.
The game respects your intelligence and lets you figure out how each piece of information links to another.
CONCLUSIONS ON THE STORY
These are the conclusions I came to at the end of the story.
The House: Inherited from the Uncle in the story. Although the Greenbriars have been living here for almost a year, they don’t seem to be very comfortable here. This is evidenced by boxes of personal effects still left unopened suggesting that they have never moved in fully.
The game also suggests that the occupants of the house do not really interact with each other.
The Parents: Jan and Terry Greenbriar, have a failing marriage mostly due to Terry’s depression.
The Father: A writer who sunk into depression and is obsessed with the JFK murder in 1963. A failing writer stuck in the past. His troubles are evidenced by the well appointed wet bar in the house and the bottle of booze in the study. Spends most of his time in the study and the library.
The Mother: Spends her time in the art studio and the kitchen. Due to her failing marriage it is also hinted that she was having an affair with a co-worker. This is shown by the note she received from a girlfriend of hers and the concert tickets.
Sam: A troubled kid growing up in a new place away from her friends and experiencing extreme loneliness. She is in love and is desperately trying to hold on to it. Sam spends all of her time in her room, the secret servants quarters and the attic.
The Uncle: The Greenbriars inherited the estate from him. It is shown that he has a drug problem from the contents of his safe and the fact that he sold his pharmacy as evidenced from his letter to his sister who unfortunately mailed it back without opening it. He died a regretful, lonely man.
The upside: The story takes a turn for the better leaving you with a sense of satisfaction at the end. Her mother did not go for the concert with the male-coworker, it is evidenced that that coworker has an out of town girlfriend and married her 2 days prior to the game’s start. The mother considered attending the wedding but decided against it in favor of going to a couples counseling retreat with the father suggesting that Kaitlin’s parents are trying to reconcile.
The father has found a new publisher and is doing relatively well, he has also got over the JFK murder and instead chose to write about the life of JFK himself.
Sam decided to elope with Lonnie(Sam’s love), although it seems bad but her letters take on a happier tone toward the end suggesting that she is happy.
The only person who had a tragic end was the Uncle. But I feel that the fact he conferred the estate to the Father shows that he is trying to reach out to the Father even in his death. The fact the the Greenbriar family moved in to the house shows that his attempt was successful.
This game is a great example of a fragmented narrative it lets you pick up information from anywhere in the game (mostly) and piece the information together by yourself sort of like a narrative jigsaw puzzle. Unlike games like HerStory or Everyone’s gone to Rapture it does not have the premise of following leads or a ball of light leading you to find out things. It lets you discover the game and advance in the story at your own pace making it feel very honest.