My Thoughts on Gone Home and Ludonarrative Dissonance

Discussion in 'Games Talk' started by TyeZenneth, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. TyeZenneth

    TyeZenneth L6: Sharp Member

    Positive Ratings:
    So I finally got around to playing Gone Home, and it was definitely an experience, so much so that I felt compelled to type this with my hands so you lovely people could consume it with your eyeballs.

    Lemme start off by stating that I goddamn loathe audio logs.
    Every time one came up I had to drop what I was doing and stare off into the abyss whilst the voice actress prattled on about teenage angst. It completely took me out of the experience, and ruined any sense of pacing or immersion. I'd also like to point out that the only person you hear directly in the entire game is Sam, the player character's sister, which makes the game's conflict feel deliberately one-sided. I'm not sure if that's intentional or just an issue of budget.

    It also really irks me that the story 'unravels' from room to room in the direction that you're supposed to explore, as if the moving company deliberately put the dad's older publications in the library where they knew you'd go first. It's just so incredibly game-y and infantile, as if I as a gamer can't be trusted to understand a story that's not told in chronological order. All of the game's threads unwind in this manner, from Sam's relationship with Lonnie, to the notes between the mom and her old college friend and the stuff that follows with the hunky ranger. The only two things that are told out of place are I guess the note on the front door and the picture of Lonnie you find early on, but those don't really tell you anything. It's a minor thing, but it really bothers me more than it should.

    What bothers me more is WHY THE FUCK IS SAM JUST LEAVING ALL OF HER CRAP ALL OVER THE HOUSEā€½ It would bother me less if the parents' stuff was also scattered, but it's really not. I also feel that claims as to the game's environmental storytelling are greatly exaggerated. This is a family that's just moved into a new house; most of their stuff is still in boxes, even. Whenever the game does make attempts at environmental storytelling (e.g. the 'blood' in the bathtub, the underground comic publication) the game just hits you over the head with it with another fucking audio log or obvious note.

    As for the narrative itself- it was alright, I guess. Nothing spectacular, in any case, and it's all certainly stuff we've heard before. The friendship with 'the bad kid', the
    forbidden romance
    , the struggling writer, the neglected wife, these are all very basic concepts that the game doesn't really do anything with. The only thing that really ever took me by surprise was when the dad gets a new publisher (and some sweet new cover art, to boot). And since everything felt so 'normal' and 'generic', I never felt any connection or emotion towards any of it. I suppose the reason for Sam's audio diary is to inject some of that into the game, but honestly it just turned me off of the whole experience.

    But I don't just have only negative things to say about the game. The atmosphere was great, the setting was nailed perfectly, and I really did like the gameplay, you know, exploring the house and looking for secrets and stuff... which is probably why this bothers me so much. Everyone was hailing the story and criticizing the gameplay when this thing came out and here I am, sitting here, rolling my eyes at the audio logs and gleefully searching every fucking wall for secret compartments. Am I crazy? Am I alone in feeling this way? Am I an anomaly because my own mom bought me I Spy computer games when I was little?