Gone Home's Tale of Forbidden Love Is Perfect on the Nintendo Switch

I'd always heard incredible things about the indie narrative game Gone Home, but I didn't actually know much about it.

It was originally released in 2013, winning loads of awards (including a BAFTA), but people were always reluctant to tell me why it was so good, unwilling to give away any of the game's secrets.

The title was added to the Nintendo Switch library last month, so I reached out to developer The Fullbright Company, which was kind enough to set me up with a download come for the game. After playing it, I can see exactly why everyone's lips were sealed.

It's not giving away too much to say that in Gone Home you play as a young woman named Katie Greenbriar. It's 1995, and after a year overseas, you're returning home to Oregon. While you were gone, your family moved into a massive new house, but when you arrive there at one in the morning, the house appears to be completely abandoned.

That's pretty much all of the context you get as the game begins. The rest is up to you to discover, controlling Katie from a first-person perspective and scouring the house for clues to your family's whereabouts, as well as the tools to explore every nook and cranny of this strange house and its locked doors and hidden pathways.

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(Gone Home via Annapurna Interactive)

The game gets its ambiance just right, adding to its mystery. As I entered the home for the first time, I was a bit spooked by the whole situation. I didn't know what kind of game this was, and the fact the entire, massive house was empty—particularly when Katie's parents knew their daughter would be coming home—made me feel like danger might be imminent.

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(Gone Home via Annapurna Interactive)

And even though there were a few lights on in the foyer, I could see that darkness filled much of the rest of the house. What might be waiting for me in the dark? With the sound of pouring rain outside, punctuated by unpredictable roaring thunder, it felt like the perfect setting for a horror game, and as I navigated the house, I'd hear creaks in the architecture that might have been someone else in the house.

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(Gone Home via Annapurna Interactive)

I made it a habit to turn on every light I stumbled across. I reasoned that it was to mark the places I'd already explored—but if I'm being honest, it was because I was terrified and didn't want to be in the dark. More than once I jumped out of my seat due because of loud thunder. It didn't help that the house is said to be haunted.

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(Gone Home via Annapurna Interactive)

But I hope it's not a spoiler to say this isn't a "scary" game, and if you're a wimp like me, you will make it through. There are no jump scares and no creatures that go bump in the night—though if you want to put all of your fears to rest, there's an option as you start a new game to flip on every light in the house.

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(Gone Home via Annapurna Interactive)

How Gone Home is played depends a lot on the player. You can be entirely thorough in your investigation, locating every detail of the family members' lives or do a more cursory search through the house for story-advancing keys and locker combinations. Most of what you'll find isn't critical, but the story is incredibly rich and really makes you fill in the blanks as a player, and I personally tried to read every word I could get my hands on.

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(Gone Home via Annapurna Interactive)

There is so much going on in this game if you only know where to look. Without revealing everything, at its core, it's about family and just how complicated their relationships can be. The characters are fully fledged, with flaws and complexity, and by the end of the game you'll feel like you really know characters—even those you never get to meet.

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(Gone Home via Annapurna Interactive)

The game addresses infidelity, feelings of failure and forbidden love, all while tackling what it means to grow up, as well as to grow apart from the people you care about. Along the way, you'll find one of the most profound love stories in gaming—and potentially put together the puzzle pieces spelling a sinister backstory behind the Greenbriar home.

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(Gone Home via Annapurna Interactive)

And though the game has an M rating, I don't know if it's deserved. There's some strong language, as well as a few suggestive moments, but if it were film I believe it'd be placed firmly under a PG-13 rating.

As a narrative, Gone Home is nearly perfect, and if you want to get completely lost in a story for a few hours (and maybe even shed a tear or two), I'd absolutely recommend it.  You can buy it now on the Nintendo Switch for $14.99.

 

If Gone Home sounds right up your alley, click HERE to find out about another game I think you'll adore, What Remains of Edith Finch.