Prose & Pixels is a feature that combines two of my loves: books and video games. Here I’ll discuss all sorts of things to do with the two, whether it’s recommendations, influences or just a good old chat.
Today I want to talk about: the game ‘Gone Home’.
Gone Home is a classic example of how a video game can tell just as powerful a story as a book. It is an unusual game in that there is no combat, no levels, no equipment to collect – just good old fashioned exploring. You play a young girl named Kaitlin, who has returned home after a year abroad. It is a stormy night in June 1995, and no-one else is home, as they weren’t expecting Kaitlin to return for a little while longer. As Kaitlin, you must explore the house and work out where your parents and sister have gone.
What is at first a pretty terrifying experience – a big, empty mansion during a huge thunderstorm, lights flickering, dark corners – becomes more and more calming as you play, as more is revealed. Putting together the pieces of the puzzle becomes addictive, and you will soon start to see a beautiful story unfold. There are not many video games that have actually made me cry, but this was definitely one of them.
The sudden switch between feeling terrified of being alone in this creepy house in the middle of a storm, and the realisation of what is going on with Kaitlin’s family leaves you feeling emotionally vulnerable in a way, something that can be built upon further by encountering all these memories.
Just take a look at the trailer (the game calls itself a ‘story exploration video game’), and you’ll see what I mean:
The conclusions may surprise you, they may not. Either way, it’s a highly emotional story that will be familiar to many players in many different ways. Even if you’re not really a gamer, I really recommend you give this a try. It’s more about the various layers of the story and how they combine than a ‘gaming experience’.
This is a game that creates more of a story in two hours than many books manage in five hundred odd pages. Once you’ve finished it, there’s the opportunity to go back and replay, and find more bits and pieces that you may have missed – the game is so detailed that it’s guaranteed you didn’t quite get everything.