I played Gone Home
! Spoilers under the cut. (If you're planning to play it, it's best to do it unspoiled.)
This game must be a very
different experience if you're not spoiled for it. I went in with the following preconceptions:
- it's a nice, hopeful game about love.
- there are lesbians.
So the game starts with you discovering your sister Sam has gone missing, and my immediate reaction was, 'Oh, she must have run off with her girlfriend.' Which was entirely correct! And then the course of the game was learning about this family, and discovering the story of how Sam and her girlfriend met and eventually came to run off together. It was very cute, and I loved how much of a sense of personality you got just from wandering through this house and looking at objects, but there was nothing surprising
Then I looked up the reactions of other people online, and I realised that most players had had an entirely different experience. Because the game is set up to make you expect horror. It's 1.15 in the morning, and you come home to an empty, creaky, dark house. There's no background music, unless you play the cassettes you find in some of the rooms; you're exploring in silence. You find that this house belonged to your great-uncle, who is rumoured to have 'gone psycho', and your parents inherited it after his recent death. Some of the lights flicker or don't work. There's an intense storm going on outside. Your sister has left you a cryptic note saying 'I'm sorry I can't be there to see you, please don't go digging around trying to find out where I am, we'll see each other again some day, I love you.'
So the usual progression of players was from 'oh, this is a ghost story' to 'oh, this is a tragic love story and I'm going to find Sam's body in the attic' to 'oh, this is actually a happy
love story! Well, all right, a girl's run away from home, but she's alive and with her girlfriend.' Whereas I was just playing and going, 'Wow, this is a weirdly creepy atmosphere for a nice love story.'
It was all so sweet and sincere and teenage! The silly little notes between Sam and Lonnie. Sam being terrible at picking up when she's obviously being flirted with. Their very earnest belief that they could change the world by distributing zines. I love the stories by Sam you discover, and how she's been developing the same characters since her childhood, and how the First Mate was originally a boy modelled on her neighbour and then became a woman when Sam started to recognise her own sexuality.
I hope Sam and her family eventually reconcile. I think they might. From what we see in the house, I don't think their differences are impossible to overcome. She might well never have run away if it weren't for the fact that her girlfriend is now, you know, a fugitive.
I'm a little worried about these two teenagers running off into the night in the middle of a terrible storm, and I'm very worried about poor Katie, coming home and discovering that a) her sister has run away, and b) she's the one who's going to have to tell their parents. (Terry's delighted letter to the publisher that reprinted his books really made me smile. He found inspiration again! I was so glad that his 'frustrated novelist' storyline had a happy ending! And then I remembered that he was going to come home and find that his daughter was missing.) But I hope Sam and Lonnie are happy.
Does this mean that both Gone Home
and Life Is Strange
are teenage f/f love stories set in Oregon and involving terrible storms? It's a shame they're not set in the same year. Life Is Strange
almost feels like it wants
to be set in 1995.
I think my favourite part of the game may have been The Menstrual Cycle: A Novella
. Truly a masterpiece.