Gone home is a first-person interactive story and exploration game for the pc. The player takes the role of Kaithlin, a girl who has been abroad for a year and arrives back home only to find the house with a note on the door that seems to indicate that her sister has run away and the house empty of people. There are no true set goals in this game but the player gets to explore the house, pick up things and find clues which lets them understand what has been happening while the player ‘was away’.
- Release date:
- January 21, 2020
How to play Gone home
The visual accessibility is a mix and one of this game’s biggest issues though the makers have certainly made decent attempts in order to rectify this. The basic mode of the game would pose quite a challenge for someone with a visual disability as the surroundings are dark and shady, the player often having to find the light switches before there is any light at all and the objects the player searches for tend to be half-hidden. Gone Home does contain certain options that address this problem. To start with, the game offers the player the option of having all the lights in the house already automatically ‘on’ from the very beginning and it also contains the options of adapting the contrast and highlighting the objects to the needs of the player. These options are fairly complete and make the visibility a lot better. It also helps that every time the player’s ‘central view point’, which can be observed as a white dot, meets something that can be investigated it’s clear. The dot changes into text about the object, alerting the player that they’ve found something. It might have been even better if this event was also accompanied by a sound cue of some kind and the option of hearing the text out loud. The attempt to make it accessible for those with visibility problems is definitely there but there are still things that could be improved.
Sound takes a passive role in this game. Its most important role seems to be to express the creepiness of the setting and the recordings of audial diaries. The player always has the option to (re)read those diaries independently in their own archive. The game contains subtitles and overlay texts for documents which are fairly complete but there are still little things that slip through the gaps there and the size and colour contrast of the subtitles could be better. A reoccurring theme in this game are casettes spread around the house so the player can put some music on. For some things there is simply no alternative possible.
The game is in first-person view on the pc and played through the often used combination of keyboard and mouse to direct movement. As usually in games with these controls this comes with lot of mobility issues though the game does have some redeeming features on that count. There is never a need to hurry in this game. The player can do everything at their own pace and ‘operating wrongly’ has no real consequences, thus giving the player the option of, for example, switching off between using the keyboard and the mouse and taking their time to get something right. Partial functions of the mouse in this game can also be fulfilled by using the keyboard though it is not possible to make it completely keyboard controlled. Also; the mouse sensitivity can be changed through the options menu. Altogether the basic operating system has many problems with accessibility especially for people who cannot use the mouse but the measures that have been taken and the tempo of the gameplay at least partially make up for it.
The explanations of the controls and the options for reviewing them are quite solid but this game can still leave players confused about ‘what they are supposed to do’. Figuring out the stories of the people living in the house might become a bit confusing and with the multiple lines to keep track of (even if only one is the main one) since there is also a lot of ‘reading between the lines’ for the player to do. If all else fails though just exploring the house and just running around can be fun in this game so it doesn’t really exempt anyone from playing but it’s easy to just get frustrated when ‘nothing happens’ and the player doesn’t know what to do.
- low vision
- color blind
- one arm
- one key
- no voice