‘Gone Home’ – An Interactive, Investigative Story Game that Highlights Relationships
‘Gone Home’, like the title of this article states, is an interactive video game that investigates the story of Kaitlin’s family. The game works by the player guiding the main player character ‘Kaitlin’ through her family house and look at objects that slowly unravel the story and various details of her family, along with information about the house itself. The game received critical acclaim for its engaging story line. And the relationships hinted at and described in this game are touching, mesmerising, and even tragic, depending on how one sees it. This is truly interactive story telling at its finest!
In 1995, after a yearlong trip abroad and absence from home, Kaitlin finally returns to her family’s manor in Portland on a dark and story night, the time being just a little past midnight. However, on coming home, she finds the manor empty, and explores the house in order to find out where the rest of her family have gone. She finds a note then from her sister Samatha, which tells her not to go looking for answers or to try and find her, as she doesn’t want to be found.
Kaitlin then finds Samantha’s journal, in which Samantha has written to Kaitlin in the form of a series of letters, which tells her about the events that happened to her during the year that Kaitlin had been abroad.
Samantha, in her first few weeks of school the previous year, had been dubbed “The Psycho House Girl”, as the family manor of theirs was known as the “Psycho House”, after a man named Oscar Mason. Oscar, it turns out, is actually Kaitlin and Samantha’s father’s uncle, and had bequeathed everything he had ever owned to their father (known as Terrence or Terry) on his death, which is how her family had come to be living in that house.
Samantha letters indicate that she was lonely at school, and had once spotted a senior girl at school in an army uniform whom she’d wanted to talk to but did not get a chance to. Samantha also mentions that she once had a friend named Daniel (who was also their neighbor before the family had moved to the manor), but that she’d been friends with him for his games than anything else; but she mentions that she knows she should call him again soon.
Along the course of the year, Samantha finally gets to talk to the army-uniform-clad girl she’d spotted before, and she and “Lonnie” (as the girl was familiarly called) became good friends. She and Samantha even had games where they ghost-hunted in the manner for fun.
Samantha and Lonnie grow even closer over time, and one day Lonnie kisses her. From there, they become girlfriends in secret and their relationship grows.
However, Lonnie soon reminds Samantha that she’ll be leaving for the army soon, and they both mourn their relationship. Then, an incident at school where Lonnie gets in trouble and Samantha defends her ends in her spilling everything about their relationship to her and Kaitlin’s parents. But their parents find it difficult to believe and say that she feels the way she does only because she hasn’t met the right boy yet. They disregard her romantic relationship with Lonnie and merely call it a phase of her growing up.
A few weeks later, Daniel shows up to pick up his games. Samantha expresses her regret about the fact that their friendship waned, and finally told her about her problems with Lonnie as well as about Terry’s publishing problems. Daniel listens and comforts her and tells her that everything will be all right.
Lonnie and Samantha have one last romantic night together before Lonnie leaves, and in the morning, Samantha wakes up to find Lonnie gone. Samantha is miserable. But later that day, Samantha picks up a call from Lonnie (which had been preceded by many that Samantha hadn’t seen at the time) where she is upset and confesses that she couldn’t go through with joining the army and leaving Samantha behind. Lonnie asks her whether she would be willing to run away with her and Sam agrees, packing up her things and a few valuables from the house before she leaves. Sam ends the journal by apologizing that she couldn’t meet Kaitlin directly and tell her, hoping that Kaitlin could understand her reasons for running away, and telling her that she loved her and would meet her someday.