2013's year of gaming is coming to a close and that means Neoseeker is deep in deliberation over its "Game of the Year" award. This month, each of Neoseeker's 10 nominees for Game of the Year will be profiled. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade us which game deserves our highest award.
Every year there's at least one game that appears as if pulled from thin air and slaps the industry across the face. We're left reeling, wondering why we're making the games we're making, why we're playing the games we're playing, and then we quickly forget and start up Battlefield 4's multiplayer again. Gone Home is that game this year, notable for both the quality of the experience it creates as well as the discussion is began on what games can and should be.
What Gone Home is, is a simple first-person exploration game where the player takes on the role of a sister returning to her parents' home after some time apart from her family. She arrives to find the house mysteriously empty, so she travels from room to room rediscovering the lives of the people she loves in the corners and secret spaces of this eerie mansion.
What Gone Home really is, is an experiment in immersion and atmosphere. Yes, the story itself is beautifully told, mature and admirably progressive for a medium focused on appeasing teenage male power fantasies, but it's in how the story is told that Gone Home proves itself one of the best games of 2013.
Why Gone Home?
- Toying With Expectations: Gone Home knows games and gamers, and because of that it's able to tease and toy with the player's expectations. Whether it be faulty wiring, hidden spaces in the walls, or personal notes and journals never meant to be read, Gone Home loves to subtly encourage the player's assumptions and then playfully redirect them towards a truth that is both rewarding and will make you question why you had assumed differently in the first place.
- Creating a Home: This house that the player returns to was never the protagonist's home, but through an impressive attention to detail Gone Home creates a space impressively immersive. Each room isn't just means to an end, a puzzle to solve that provides clues to the unlocking the secrets of Gone Home, it's also a believably lived in space. These are the locations where the protagonist's family live their lives, where they grow older without their daughter/sister. Through exploring these rooms the protagonist truly rediscovers home and what that truly means.
- Issues and Emotion: Gone Home doesn't just tell a story, it's much more productive with its investment in immersing the player. Once drawn into the role as the sister, the player introduced to many issues that affect the family in very serious ways. Issues related to sexuality, infidelity, bullying, aging, money and so much more. However, Gone Home never grows preachy or forces the player to feel one way or another. In fact, that may be Gone Home's greatest strength -- that it allows players to take and hold only what they are willing to allow themselves from the experience. Hopefully something meaningful.
There is no game this year that has left me so emotionally compromised as Gone Home. What The Fullbright Company has managed to achieve in this small, short game is more than most hugely expensive AAA projects could ever dream of. Not that they'd try. Ironic that this is in part why Gone Home is so successful and so truly inspiring.
Neoseeker's Game of the Year 2013 Nominees
- Tomb Raider
- The Last of Us
- BioShock Infinite
- Gone Home
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Saints Row IV
- Path of Exile
- Papers, Please
- Metro: Last Light
Neoseeker's Game of the Year awards are decided by editors Lydia Sung and Rory Young. Follow them on Twitter at @RabidChinaGirl and @bluexy , or read their news, reviews and features every day here at Neoseeker.
Make sure to get your vote in for the Neoseeker Community Game of the Year! The current leader is Pokemon X/Y, naturally.