Gone Home

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Gone Home Game Poster Image
Terrific narrative game tackles tough teen identity issues.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational value

Kids can learn about emotional development, diversity, and overcoming obstacles in this breakthrough interactive story that puts players in the shoes of a teen discovering her sexual orientation. Players experience a story in which the primary character is a high school senior dealing with authentic high school problems in believable ways. Her methods of coping should prove relatable -- perhaps even helpful -- for kids in similar situations. Gone Home is a revolutionary piece of digital storytelling that could go a long way toward helping high school kids become comfortable with who they and their schoolmates are.

Positive messages

This game explores the complex emotions and relationships of a small family and the people in their lives, focusing mostly on one of the daughters, a high school senior discovering her sexuality. It's about love, acceptance, and the hard decisions teens often face, especially those who don't necessarily fit within the mainstream.

Positive role models & representations

The player's character is an adventurous young woman returning home from a trip abroad. She is intelligent, well-rounded, responsible, and caring. Her younger sister embodies these qualities as well, though she makes some decisions parents probably wouldn't agree with, such as staying out all night with a friend.

Ease of play

Players simply walk around the house using the WASD keys and click on interesting things with the mouse. There aren't really any traditional puzzles, and there's no way to lose -- though if you don't take the time to read all the notes you find, you may end up missing out on some subtler elements of the story.

Violence
Sex

Although there's no nudity in the game, there is frank discussion about sexuality. Players will find and read high school Sex Ed assignments that discuss in detail the male and female reproductive systems. Plus, one of the main characters writes and speaks about love and sex. Players also will find a couple of "gentlemen's magazines," though they can't flip through them, as well as an unused condom.

Language

The words "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and "hell" appear in text and can be heard in songs. 

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Players will encounter bottles of alcohol, empty shot glasses, a package of cigarettes, and light discussion of drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Gone Home is less a game than an interactive story. There is no action, no combat, and not really even any traditional puzzles. Players take on the role of a young woman who explores her family's empty house after a year abroad, piecing together details of her family's activities during her time away. During her search she experiences several revelations, many to do with her sister's budding sexuality and sexual orientation. There is no nudity, but players should expect frank discussions of sex, as well as some strong language, mostly heard in background music. 

User Reviews

Adult Written byFROGS_UNITE June 30, 2015

Well....

If you are wondering whether your child should play this it depends on how mature he is. The game does explore sexuality and it does cuss but it's not an... Continue reading
Adult Written bykenji i. December 23, 2016
Teen, 14 years old Written bySawybean August 27, 2013

A Beautiful Example of Magnificent Storytelling in the Video Game Media

As I stood in front of the door to the house which you explore throughout the game, baggage to my right, I expected a horror game. Little did I know that what l... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old October 7, 2013

Gone Home

Good game, but a lot of issues with this family's identity.Kids probably won't get it,but they probably would just screw around wandering through the... Continue reading

What's it about?

GONE HOME puts players in the role of Katie, a 20-year-old woman returning home after a year spent traveling around Europe. But the home she returns to isn't the one she left. Her parents and sister have moved into a mansion once owned by her uncle, and it's empty. The entirety of the game's three hours is spent exploring this giant house, wherein you'll find notes and artifacts that combine to create a tapestry of the lives of Katie's family. It's clear that the parents are going through some personal issues, but it’s Katie's sister Sam who eventually becomes the focus of the story. A high school senior having trouble making friends at her new school, Sam has left her personal notes and stories (she's an aspiring author). Players also get to hear Sam's voice as she confides to Katie her emotions and experiences, especially those to do with one friend in particular.

Is it any good?

Gone Home is the sort of game that validates the video game medium as one capable of expressing ideas and emotion. It's puzzles aren't literal but instead are locked within the narrative. Your objective is simply to be a careful explorer, finding and digesting every clue and bit of writing you come across to put together the many seemingly disparate pieces of this complex but believable -- and perhaps even relatable -- story.

And what a story it is. Despite never actually seeing any characters, players will come away feeling like they know the family that lives at the house on Arbor Hill. The characters are deeply authentic, especially the teenager Sam, whose beautifully written notes and stories and movingly acted voice dialogue are about as heartrending as anything you'll find in a game. Some of what players will see, read, and hear is certainly mature, but it fits perfectly -- naturally -- within the narrative context. It's not a stretch to suggest that no other game better captures the mindset and emotion of a senior high school student.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sexuality. If you have questions about sex, to whom do you talk about it? Do you feel comfortable discussing your own sexuality? 

  • Families also can discuss storytelling in games. Have you ever played a game whose focus is storytelling rather than action? How did this experience make you feel? Was it as compelling as other games? 

Game details

Themes & Topics

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