Graydon Webb – The Contrarian American

Gone Home

Credit: Fullbright

Taking a glance at my favorite games of all time, quite a few stand out from this generation as heavy-hitters. The majority of these are the story-driven indies, like Oxenfree and Celeste. But one of these games sits at the top of my list, and has since its inception way back in 2013 – before this generation of consoles was even released, mind you – and that’s Gone Home.

So how does Gone Home set a precedent for video game narratives, so much so that it lands itself ports on every major console for years to come? Well, for starters, its focus on exploration was unlike any other at the time. There have been quite a few copycats in the world of “walking simulators” since then, but back in 2013, there weren’t a lot of games encouraging exploration to tell a story.

As the player meanders about the protagonist’s abandoned house, a tale unfolds that’s as emotionally gripping as it is environmentally unsettling. The entire house feels haunted and ready to strike at every turn, however, the game never develops into anything more than a beautiful story, played out through minor puzzles and object interaction. Taking control of your entire being, Gone Home never fails to seize the player’s attention and lead them through the game’s 3-hour story in one sitting.

Initially, I considered it cheating to choose a game that hadn’t even launched on next-generation consoles. But now, after looking back on it and thinking hard, Gone Home deserves the right to be here as my game of the generation. Fullbright went on to create Tacoma, another wonderful favorite of mine, which I highly recommend. Tacoma may include more gameplay elements, but its story doesn’t fully compare to that of Gone Home. It’s certainly left a lasting impact on me for the past seven years, and perhaps to celebrate, I’ll give it another go!

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