#1 Posted by jarowdowsky (206 posts) -

So, thought it'd be nice to have somewhere to talk about the game once it's been concluded. At Brad's suggestion seems the best way would be with a spoiler tagged discussion here.

Not sure how everyone will feel about accidentally clicking in, so gonna at least spoiler tag my first reply and see if other people want to do the same?

Now if I can just figure out how to do a reply in spoiler tags I'll be all set ;)

#2 Posted by jarowdowsky (206 posts) -

So, one thing I really wanted to mention about finishing the game was...

Just how positive things were after finding the entry about the phone calls to Sam. I guess games had me assuming the worst (was I a ghost! had something terrible happened in the Army! was there a suicide pact!) so it was such a breath of fresh air for everything to be resolved in such a positive, kind of real and human way. People away from the house, two lovers rushing to meet each other, a simple rainy night.

I was curious if people enjoyed it as much as I did and also if it had the same affect on your experience of the house if you resume the game? Suddenly the sinister feelings seemed to lift, the rain seemed natural, everything seems pretty good.

It's was a real weight suddenly lifted for me to realise that I wasn't playing a tragedy but a love story.

#3 Edited by cuttablefurball (19 posts) -

I'm glad someone started a thread about this game. Man did I enjoy that game! I can't even remember the last time a game has left me feeling the way that I do. The way they told the story of Sam and Lonnie was very well done and felt very real. I think I had some manly tears by the end of it.

#4 Posted by jarowdowsky (206 posts) -

Yeah, I definitely had something in my eye as it finished :)

#5 Posted by cuttablefurball (19 posts) -

@jarowdowsky: I agree I thought the worst until the end of the game. All the notes about the haunting's and the love story that came out of the notes. I was just waiting for it to go all supernatural or end in Sam losing Lonnie. It is nice to see a game try to talk about a lesbian relationship without it sounding overly dramatic or just told like a bad romance novel. I feel the game did it in a very believable fashion and in a very interesting narrative format.

#6 Edited by planetfunksquad (398 posts) -

The way the game made you believe there was something supernatural going on all the way through the fucking story EVEN THOUGH I KNEW THERE WASNT was masterful. The bait and switch at the end that make you think that maybe Sam had killed herself was gut wrenching, and I almost cried during her last bit of dialog. SO GOOD JHGSDKJHS

#7 Edited by The_Nubster (2037 posts) -

I was curious about the relationship between the mother and the father. I know that the father got a second wind with his author gig, but what happened between the mother and Ranger Rick? I found the letter from Carol talking about margaritas and going to the bar, but I think I missed something past that. Was there ever a concrete confirmation or denial about infidelity, or was the couple's resort pamphlet in the greenhouse and the subsequent reveal of the long vacation meant to put to rest that notion?

#8 Posted by Cathryn (545 posts) -

@the_nubster:

They don't say straight out what happened between the mother and the guy at work that she was interested in, but if you look at the refrigerator in the kitchen, there's a wedding invitation where a guy named Rick is the groom. Also, there was a brochure in the Dad's desk in the solarium for a couple's counselling trip (the trip the parents were on) so I'm going to assume that nothing actually happened with Ranger Rick at all, and the mother was just interested in him. I could be wrong, but that's what I figured probably happened. Could be that learning he was marrying someone else made the mother realize that she wanted to work on her own marriage.

Online
#9 Edited by RetroVirus (1455 posts) -

I was also really worried near the end of the game. From when you find the note about the secret passage behind the foyer, I had a small sense of dread that just kept building until I finally entered the attic. I was prepared to see some sort of sad scene, like the aforementioned suicide pact, but as soon as Sam started talking about Lonnie calling her I was overcome with relief. I really liked that it turned out well.

As a fan of Idle Thumbs, the ghost boardgame was amazing.

#10 Posted by Kbohls (77 posts) -

@the_nubster:

There is a calendar in the kitchen that shows that Rick's wedding overlaps with the "Anniversary Vacation" that Terry and Jan take. The note for the wedding has been crossed out implying that they didn't go.

I personally found Oscar's story to be the most well done out of all the supporting characters, reading the letter in his safe was truly heart breaking.

#11 Edited by tyler1285 (172 posts) -

So...... did anyone get a screen grab of the erotic note thing?

#12 Posted by MildMolasses (3211 posts) -

I'm on an iPad and can't use the fancy tags, and since this thread is clearly marked for spoilers I'll just type.

That climb up the attic steps was one of the tensest moments I can remember in a game. The note at the beginning from Sam apologizing for the mess had me expecting to see her to be swinging from a rope up there. Obviously I was greatly relieved to see what actually happened.

The way they tell the story is amazing. The slow discovery of the failed writer husband and the cheating wife, their inability to deal with their rebellious teenage daughter, and the final revelations that love has won out for both couples was amazing.

Some of the 'hey, remember the 90's?" stuff was a little overdone, but that time period was necessary for the story. With modern communications methods, you wouldn't be able to have this story take place. Plus I think the 'riot grrl' aesthetic really works in selling the Sam and Lonnie story

#13 Posted by ztiworoh (731 posts) -

@kbohls: I wasn't able to find the combination for the safe. What was in it?

#14 Edited by Doskias (300 posts) -

A few weeks ago, whichever of the Fullbright folk runs the @gonehomegame twitter account posted a Gone Home poster QR code for Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I tweeted in reply that it would look great next to the I Want To Believe poster I already had hanging in my house. Karla Z (@zusty) enjoyed it, and that made me incredibly happy.

Then I saw the I Want To Believe poster in Sam's bedroom, and I squealed. It was the unmanliest noise I've made in recent memory, and I don't care.

So...... did anyone get a screen grab of the erotic note thing?

I didn't, but some other helpful user on Steam did. That link is incredibly spoilery. I mean, that's why we're here, but I'm telling you all just in case. Be sure you want to click it.

#15 Edited by Kevin_Cogneto (991 posts) -

I'm of two minds about Gone Home. On the one hand, I desperately crave more games that are about real people in the real world, as opposed to space marines and wizards saving the universe. On the other hand, having just finished the game, I found the whole thing incredibly manipulative, emotionally. The entire game feels like an exercise in trying to generate artificial dread in the player, where none was necessary given the story they were trying to tell. "Oh no, scary lightning! Oh no, ghost sightings! Oh no, mysterious catacombs! Oh no, maybe she killed herself!" Frankly, I feel like Sam and Lonnie's story deserved better than tacky Halloween-House theatrics.

#16 Posted by kalmia64 (73 posts) -

@tyler1285: Wait, was that the lined piece of paper? I thought my game glitched out when it disappeared. Did it vanish for you too?

#17 Edited by ztiworoh (731 posts) -

@kevin_cogneto: See, I read that as subverting expectations. The game has all of the trappings of a horror game - the creepy mansion, the stormy night, the flickering lights. It's playing with what we think a video game will be about, in order to draw you into an incredibly un-gamey story.

I thinks that Sam's bathroom, for instance, is a perfect example of this. The tub first appears to be caked in blood, but on further examination, it's hair dye and part of one of the happiest parts of her narrative.

#18 Posted by SockemJetpack (407 posts) -

@ztiworoh: A note about how Oscar was giving up on life and a bunch of WW2 era Morphine syrettes as well as a syringe. Oscar seemed to be a junkie. Guess that explains the "psycho house" stuff.

#19 Posted by ztiworoh (731 posts) -

@sockemjetpack: Interesting. I did find a note dated 1923 with what looked like an invoice of liquor and something about "the Governor being pleased," so I assumed Oscar was a bootlegger during prohibition?

#20 Edited by Kevin_Cogneto (991 posts) -

@ztiworoh said:

@kevin_cogneto: See, I read that as subverting expectations. The game has all of the trappings of a horror game - the creepy mansion, the stormy night, the flickering lights. It's playing with what we think a video game will be about, in order to draw you into an incredibly un-gamey story.

I thinks that Sam's bathroom, for instance, is a perfect example of this. The tub first appears to be caked in blood, but on further examination, it's hair dye and part of one of the happiest parts of her narrative.

And it's a perfect example of how manipulative the game is, which is exactly what I was saying. It's the designers just playing gotcha. I just don't know why they felt the need to add artificial drama when there's more than enough drama in Sam & Lonnie's story as it is.

#21 Posted by Lord_Punch (138 posts) -

@ztiworoh said:

@kevin_cogneto: See, I read that as subverting expectations. The game has all of the trappings of a horror game - the creepy mansion, the stormy night, the flickering lights. It's playing with what we think a video game will be about, in order to draw you into an incredibly un-gamey story.

I thinks that Sam's bathroom, for instance, is a perfect example of this. The tub first appears to be caked in blood, but on further examination, it's hair dye and part of one of the happiest parts of her narrative.

And it's a perfect example of how manipulative the game is, which is exactly what I was saying. It's the designers just playing gotcha. I just don't know why they felt the need to add artificial drama when there's more than enough drama in Sam & Lonnie's story as it is.

I'm with you. I really liked most of what this game offered, but I do feel like a "bait & switch" happened. At the end of the story, I'm happy for Lonnie and Sam, but I feel empty when it comes to the experience as a whole. I had a feeling of: "Oh. That's it?"

#22 Posted by steelerzfan101 (270 posts) -

@doskias said:

A few weeks ago, whichever of the Fullbright folk runs the @gonehomegame twitter account posted a Gone Home poster QR code for Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I tweeted in reply that it would look great next to the I Want To Believe poster I already had hanging in my house. Karla Z (@zusty) enjoyed it, and that made me incredibly happy.

Then I saw the I Want To Believe poster in Sam's bedroom, and I squealed. It was the unmanliest noise I've made in recent memory, and I don't care.

@tyler1285 said:

So...... did anyone get a screen grab of the erotic note thing?

I didn't, but some other helpful user on Steam did. That link is incredibly spoilery. I mean, that's why we're here, but I'm telling you all just in case. Be sure you want to click it.

Oh geez. I totally missed that note! And here I thought I got to see everything! Where was that note. It looks like it was next to some garbage can...

#23 Posted by steelerzfan101 (270 posts) -

I also want to say that I really enjoyed the game! It was definitely one of those experiences that are few and far between in games today.

I was definitely expecting to find a dead body in that bathtub that seemed to have what looked like blood on the tub. I guess thankfully there wasn't a dead body in there but for some reason I kept on thinking that the climax of this story was that there was going to be a dead body waiting for me somewhere, waiting to be discovered. Obviously this wasn't the case but the story about Sam and Lonnie is great, something I was definitely not expecting. Who would have thought that those first two calls on the answering machine where from Sam!

#24 Posted by EvGar (131 posts) -

So where can you find the code for the safe in the basement?

Also, the "governor will be pleased" note was signed H W if I remember correctly. Who was that?

#25 Edited by kalmia64 (73 posts) -

@evgar: Look on the wall nearby the safe.

#26 Edited by XCEagle (105 posts) -

@steelerzfan101: I missed that too, if anyone could answer where that was. I remember seeing a crumpled piece of paper in a trash can that I couldn't read. The only one in the house, but I didn't think anything of it.

@lord_punch: But isn't that the point? It's a flawed family and we're poring over every scrap of paper we find, did Mom run away with Rick? Did Dad get drunk again and do something terrible? Yet, ultimately it's the mundane that wins out, we get incomplete information and run with it, and the game subverts that at nearly every turn. Sam wrote a note that said not to tell Mom and Dad anything I found and that the attic, and then it ends. I understand why that might have been a let down for you, but it was the incredibly relieving for me. Those harsh red christmas lights and Sam's note had me expecting the worst, I was happy to see the game fooled me, personally.

#27 Edited by Lord_Punch (138 posts) -

@xceagle:

But at that point, the game just ends up feeling like wish fulfillment without any real conflict. Thus, all of the suspense, intrigue, and creepiness is merely contrived manipulation by the developers who aren't confident for this story to stand alone.

#28 Posted by XCEagle (105 posts) -

@kevin_cogneto: I disagree with you about that. I think we drew conclusions with incomplete information based on typical game and movie tropes. Is that manipulative? I don't think so. They never lied to us, Sam's notes give us more than ample reason to not suspect the supernatural. The tub having dye isn't manipulative either, the only reason we have to suspect that someone died is our own grandiose expectations for a game narrative, and the bottle if right next to that tub. The game played on the expectations we had for an empty mansion, but no I wouldn't say it manipulated us. It asked us to approach the game without preconceptions, and I'll admit I couldn't do that and was wrong multiple times.

#29 Edited by Kevin_Cogneto (991 posts) -

@xceagle said:

@kevin_cogneto: I disagree with you about that. I think we drew conclusions with incomplete information based on typical game and movie tropes. Is that manipulative? I don't think so. They never lied to us, Sam's notes give us more than ample reason to not suspect the supernatural. The tub having dye isn't manipulative either, the only reason we have to suspect that someone died is our own grandiose expectations for a game narrative, and the bottle if right next to that tub. The game played on the expectations we had for an empty mansion, but no I wouldn't say it manipulated us. It asked us to approach the game without preconceptions, and I'll admit I couldn't do that and was wrong multiple times.

Oh come on, the game certainly doesn't ask you to come to it without preconceptions, it deliberately creates those expectations from minute one. If the haunted house setting doesn't do it, the answering machine messages certainly do. They're deliberately trying to mislead you into thinking something terrible has happened to members of your family. When we see the dye in the tub, we jump to the conclusion that someone has died because the game has deliberately led us to that conclusion. To claim anything different is totally disingenuous. Has the game "lied" to us? No. Has it misled us? You bet it has.

In the end, it's about the stakes of the story. When a story ends with "it was all a dream", why do we get upset? Because it means everything we just saw doesn't matter, and whatever we thought was at stake never actually was. Now then, what does Gone Home lead us to believe is at stake? Nothing less than the very lives and safety of our family. What is actually at stake? The happiness of our sister. That's still important, sure. But at no point was her life in danger, not in any way shape or form. Yet the game does everything in its power to mislead you into thinking that it is. Is it as bad as "it was all a dream"? Not by a long shot. But what we thought was at stake -- Sam's life -- never actually was. And that's the manipulation that irks me.

#30 Posted by Runyan (15 posts) -

@the_nubster: There was a note to Jan from Rick about going to the Earth Wind and Fire concert because his girlfriend didn't want to go. Then you can find the Earth Wind and Fire ticket stub in the floor vent. Imply what you want. There's probably something too with her job changing and work route but I didn't go back and look at it.

#31 Edited by johncallahan (541 posts) -

I don't have much more to say than what you fine people have already pointed out. The way Gone Home subverts expectations is astounding. The whole game feels like a horror game, I kept waiting to open one of those closets and have something jump out at me, or hear footsteps creeping behind me. And I swear, ever since I read that note by the attic door, and found it to be locked, I had the sense of dread that I'd open it and find Sam hanging by a rope. None of that happened though, instead I got one of the most resonant and enjoyable stories I've ever gotten from a video game. Truly one of my favorite things to come out of this year.

#32 Edited by johncallahan (541 posts) -

I don't have much more to say than what you fine people have already pointed out. The way Gone Home subverts expectations is astounding. The whole game feels like a horror game, I kept waiting to open one of those closets and have something jump out at me, or hear footsteps creeping behind me. And I swear, ever since I read that note by the attic door, and found it to be locked, I had the sense of dread that I'd open it and find Sam hanging by a rope. None of that happened though, instead I got one of the most resonant and enjoyable stories I've ever gotten from a video game. Truly one of my favorite things to come out of this year.

#33 Edited by burnsep (11 posts) -

I spent the whole game in a growing cloud of dread, and had an amazing change of mood as soon as I got into the attic. I'm ... touched by the tenderness in the story, and the hope for love that's the ultimate message. Will everything turn out all right? Probably not, but that's because no story has an actual end.

That said, where the hell do I find the combination for the father's filing cabinet? Maybe I'm just dumb but no 4 number set I could find fit!

#34 Edited by kid_gloves (76 posts) -

I see where you are all coming from with the subverting of expectations, but very early on in the game (especially since it gives explanations for all the SPOOKY like the lights, and how it treats the ghost stuff like teens would treat ghost stuff) I figured it was not going to be a horror story or game at all. Most of the references to that stuff seemed like knowing nods, maybe not so much to actually mislead you but on a basic level of how being alone in a big dark house in a storm is inherently creepy.

It never really presented the crazy person/ghost elements in any way other than slightly goofy as it would have been in real life. People thought it was haunted because it was alone, old, big, and a old recluse lived their by himself for decades.... that is prime fodder for local legends and that is exactly how the game treats it. All of the actual atmosphere and tension is drawn from immersing the player enough that it draws from the same feeling we would get if we were alone in a big old mansion at night. If anything the fact that some people feel misled by it is a testament to how good a job it did in immersing players in the situation.

Also to those saying it diminishes the story of Sam and Lonnie.... I very much disagree. Without any tension (where is everyone? Why is the place kinda overly messy? Did they end up together?) the story loses its drive. While I never thought ghosts or supernatural stuff was at play, the general setting definitely added a level of suspense to needing to know exactly how everything worked out for the different family members. It drove me (and I assume most people) to search every bit of the mansion to find out more.

#35 Edited by Khann (2761 posts) -

So, my assumption from the letter in Oscar's safe was that he was also gay. I don't remember seeing much else in the game to support this, though. Anyone else think the same?

#36 Posted by realph (253 posts) -

I agree with the OP, I just loved how they sidestepped the whole creepy house and familiar tropes to tell a love story.

#37 Edited by JasonR86 (9578 posts) -

I think tackling homosexuality in teenage years is a really brave thing to do and I'm happy this team took that chance. Some of the worldly-references regarding the issue (the military 'don't ask don't tell' and that in nearly every room there's a Bible) felt real forced. But I respect what they did and I think they did it pretty well. But when I've heard the sentiment that it is 'important' or things like that I can't help but scratch my head and wonder why. I mean I'm happy I played it. But come on.

#38 Edited by kid_gloves (76 posts) -

@khann:

At the risk of maybe inferring too many dark things from the slim details of Oscar. It seemed to me that he suffered from pedophilia and had molested Terrence at some point? Just the general tone of his letter to Terence, and the way he spoke about his misdeed and asked for forgiveness to his sister..... plus the markings of Terrence's height up to age 12.... plus the sudden withdrawal from public life (to protect others?).

Yeah writing that out I feel pretty confident about it now.

#39 Edited by kid_gloves (76 posts) -

@jasonr86:

I am of the mind that it is important if it does well commercially and it sparks developers backing away from maybe "tacking" on traditional gameplay mechanics like SHOOT THE BAD GUYS.

As far as its story itself. I just think it told a good emotional story, which is a testament to the good writing and acting involved. The subject matter has been tackled many times in media, maybe not many at all in games for wide release but I don't really think the medium suddenly makes the story topic important.

#40 Edited by KoolAid (821 posts) -

@ztiworoh said:

@kevin_cogneto: See, I read that as subverting expectations. The game has all of the trappings of a horror game - the creepy mansion, the stormy night, the flickering lights. It's playing with what we think a video game will be about, in order to draw you into an incredibly un-gamey story.

I thinks that Sam's bathroom, for instance, is a perfect example of this. The tub first appears to be caked in blood, but on further examination, it's hair dye and part of one of the happiest parts of her narrative.

I totally think that's what they were going for. I think its one of the most impressive thing about this game. I would be SCARED to release this game.

It has all these horror trappings that simultaneously don't have to be there and TOTALLY have to be there. If I made this game, I would be afraid that someone would not want to finish the game because they are so scared. Or worse yet, not pick it up in the first place because they think its a horror game. I would endlessly wrestle with if I should take out the lightning and stuff, and in the end I probably would so that adventure game fans would be more likely to play it. Now, I'm so happy that Fullbright stuck to their vision, because this game has masterful storytelling.

I don't know about you duders, but my heart was beating out of my chest when I found out about the compartment under the stairs. I tried to get there as soon as I could.

That goes double for the attic.

#41 Edited by burnsep (11 posts) -

I also think Terrence may have had an even harder time accepting a lesbian daughter given the hints of child abuse he may have suffered at the hands of his uncle, and his terrible relationship with his own father (see the mutilated portrait and the dismissive tone in the book review in the basement). Even in the 90's homosexuality was viewed as a psychiatric disorder in many places.

That said, maybe his writing a book with a protagonist going back to 1963 to right a terrible wrong is more about the date of his last height measurement (Thanksgiving, age 12) in the basement than about the Kennedy assassination.

#42 Posted by kid_gloves (76 posts) -

I think its a good idea not to glean too much from the one talk about the parents reaction to finding out their daughter was a lesbian. Yeah it didn't go well and they were in denial. But it intentionally left it at that IMO, leaving open the possibility that they come around and maybe also being slightly related to how all 3 of their lives seemed to be spiraling out of control at that time and having a hard time dealing with much of anything. Emotions were heightened all around.

Or maybe I just always like to imagine happy reconciliation when it comes to open ended stories.

#43 Posted by KoolAid (821 posts) -

@kevin_cogneto: I think the horror trappings are absolutely necessary and key to the story. The game starts you with an expectation that something horrible has happened to Sam. Over the course of the game, you slowly figure out "Oh thank god. Nothing terrible happened. She's just gay." But (for me at least) that relief is part of the message. Being "just gay" (especially in Sam's case) is not all peaches and cream. I think the game is trying to put that into context, maybe sorta from the parents point of view?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the game seems to being comparing "Oh my god, my daughter is gay! This is the end of the world!" To "Oh my god! My daughter's life is in danger! I have to find her." I think its trying to point out how little that being gay should matter in the grand scheme of how much you care for this person as a human being.

Without the horror, I don't think the game would have been as awesome. It would have been a neat game experiment, a cool way to tell a simple story. But I think the horror delivery helped them create something that approaches game literature.

#44 Posted by XCEagle (105 posts) -

@kevin_cogneto: You're the one casting it as a "haunted house". It's a large empty house with flickering lights, and one of the first rooms you go into explains why the lights flicker. Have you never heard a teenager cry on the phone? Sam and Lonnie had just broken up, but we assume she's dead or run away from abusive parents, etc. Each of these has a completely innocuous reason that it could be happening, and yet we assumed the worst for this ordinary, flawed family: a teenager being melodramatic about her first love, a wife unhappy with her marriage and the slump it's in, and a father considering himself a failure and hitting the sauce. These are ordinary people with ordinary live.The developers allowed us to make the assumptions they knew we were going to make and didn't feel the need to correct us until the end of the game.

The moment that indicated this perfectly for me was the note on the board outside Sam's room that said something like "Sam, stop leaving all the damn lights on, you're as bad as your sister." And I started laughing, I had turned on every light in the house to that point and there was no way I was turning off any of them.

That's why I say we weren't manipulated because we were just predictable. We jumped to conclusions because of the familiar tropes presented to us, and Fullbright simply didn't correct us. But I'm willing to say that was my fault. I was given a large, empty house in the middle of a stormy night, instead of taking it as such, I assumed that all translated to ghosts or danger, and I let them subvert those expectations.

So maybe the stakes aren't as big as we're used to in games, but i'd say realization of sexual identity and committing herself to be who she is despite bullying at school and her parent's reaction is still huge; the story is still about her life, just not her death.

#45 Posted by XCEagle (105 posts) -

@kid_gloves: Where did you find that info about Oscar? The basement? I'd like to go back and try to find out more about him.

#46 Posted by kid_gloves (76 posts) -

@xceagle:

Yeah the basement has most of the info. The letter in the safe, the markings right next to it for Terrence's height, and a news clipping in the first big room about him opening a soda fountain in his store serving lots of kids.... Terrence being the first one to try it out. It is super implied and never spoken but it just seems the most logical conclusion to me.

#48 Posted by Oscar__Explosion (2178 posts) -

I knew from the start it wasn't suppose to be a horror game but once I got to the sequence during which you find the attic key I was absoultly fearing the worst, but after hearing Sam's final passage in the game I was totally releaved. I think the story was very cute and I'm glad it came out as a happy ending for Sam.

#49 Edited by SpunkyHePanda (1581 posts) -

Watched the Quick Look after playing, and aw, I forgot about the messages on the answering machine. Funny how context can change something so creepy and foreboding into something sweet.

It's interesting seeing people saying the dad got his happy ending when I felt it was completely opposite. In my mind, he wasn't writing what he wanted to write anymore, but desperately pandering to a small audience he didn't fully understand. I was half-expecting another letter from the publisher saying "Yeah, this is just the worst." But now I can see why it might be a positive thing. And I'm gonna choose to see it that way, because man, his whole story was really bumming me out.