Gone Home Ramblings

If it seems like I’ve disappeared from this blog, you’d be right. I haven’t posted in a few months because work piled up, and I wrote my PhD comprehensive exam. Then I slept for 3 weeks. Now that I’ve checked my pulse and its 2014, I can start posting things again.

Over the holiday, I played Fullbright’s Gone Home, and was totally blown away. I’ve started to play more and more point-and-click exploratory puzzle games, even though I’m not great at them. I frequently get lost when exploring areas and have to heavily rely on maps, because I forget where I’m supposed to go. So while these games aren’t my forte, I really do love them.

Later this month/in early February, myself and the other ladies of GI Janes are going to release a full podcast recording on Gone Home, talking about story, characters, and gameplay.

EDIT: You can listen to the full podcast here.

Of course, there are spoilers. I also want to put some of my own thoughts on here, which also has heavy spoilers (because otherwise what’s the point?). Read on if you care to see me ask a lot of questions and ramble.

Characters

In this story, Katie is the protagonist, but you learn very little about her, other than the fact that she went to Europe. I really didn’t learn anything else. Other than the main storyline that belongs to Sam and Lonnie, Gone Home is very much about Terrence and Jan Greenbriar, as well as Oscar Mason.

Oscar 

What were your theories on Oscar and his relationship with Terrence? Did you think that Oscar was truly “psycho” like people thought? Did he have a morphine addiction, or was he molesting his nephew? There are certainly some implications of the latter, such as the letter he writes to Terrence after his marriage, and the height chart in the basement, which was just odd.  I had trouble figuring out the direct cause of Oscar’s death, though, and what “temptation” he was referring to in his letter to his sister. Was it a temptation towards drugs, or pedophilia? Or both?

JFK

What did you think about the theme of Terrence’s book series? Do you think that his character wanted to go back in time to 1963 to save himself (rather than the President) once he realized what had possibly happened to him as a child? For decades, lots of people thought that there was a massive conspiracy surrounding JFK’s death. But why was Terrence so obsessed with it?

It seemed like Terrence and Sam bonded over X-Files. I have a feeling that Terrence’s interest in the supernatural connects to his book character traveling back through time as a plausible method of dealing with trauma. Also, once Terrence allegedly “finds out” about his abuse,  I have no idea what to think about he and his family continuing to live in the house.

Richard

How much do you think Terrence’s father knew about his son’s relationship with Oscar? In Richard’s letter, other than stating that his son’s tropes are clichéd, he also mentions that he is glad Terrence is using fiction to sort out personal issues. Terrence seemed to kind of hate him, though, as was implied with the cut-out photo of him.

Jan and Rick

Do you think Jan was having an affair with Ranger Rick? What tipped me off the most was the receipt for the salon, which I found way before the letter in her nightstand. The weekend getaway that Terrence and Jan is definitely connected to that, but I wonder if Terrence knew anything was going on. I figured whatever had happened, Jan had moved on from it. I noticed the calendar in the kitchen had a note stating that they would not be making it to Rick’s wedding. But! I’m not sure if it was Terrence or Jan who wrote that. Also, what was that about her getting all those letters of promotion?

Daniel

Do you think Daniel had a crush on Sam at all? I didn’t think this at first, but then realized that the original story Sam had written about Captain Allegra and the First Mate was pretty much about her and Daniel. That story really evolved over the years, from the First Mate being a guy to him transforming into a girl via the Amazonian women, to the First Mate being Lonnie. I really loved this element of the game, and there will definitely be a lot more talk about it in the podcast. 

Game Play

When playing, did you turn on all the lights once entering a room? Or, did you want to keep it scary? I was a bit scared throughout the game up until I read that inspection letter from the electrician explaining that it was normal for the house to creak and make weird noises. I immediately relaxed then, figuring there were no ghosts in the house (despite Sam and Lonnie’s investigations). I think that there is a lot to be said about the game’s use of the horror trope, and tropes in general that are indicative of the 90’s. More on this for sure.

Invasiveness

After you opened drawers, did you close them? Throughout most of the game, I saw myself not as Katie, but as a strange person looking around someone else’s house. For some reason I didn’t want the parents to come home and find all their stuff rummaged through. For the most part, I would put things back and close drawers, especially when the things I found were private. This happened a few times with Sam’s belongings, as well as with Terrence’s letters from his editors. I just felt like those were things that shouldn’t be left “out in the open.” Of course, there were times when I was impatiently looking for something and I left things on the floor scattered about, but usually not. I also gleaned some morbid satisfaction from placing the condom found inside Terrence’s drawer on top of the drawer in plain sight.

Secret Passages

My final clock-time on Steam was 6 hours. Much longer than most people, but this is because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to access the east wing of the house. For nearly the whole game I didn’t realize that I hadn’t been to the kitchen or dining room of the house, and it took me forever to find the secret passage in the basement leading to it. I only realized where it was when I looked at the basement wall from a different angle and saw that one part of the wall looked different, so I walked through it.

House

What do you think of the idea of various parts of the house belonging to individual family members? The west wing of the main floor was very much Terrence, what with his office, his library, his bar, and his secrets. The east wing was more Jan, and her respective “secrets.” The basement was mostly Oscar. Sam’s area was the attic and her bedroom, but her hand-drawn maps and investigations into Oscar’s ghost made me think that she had taken ownership over much of the house. Katie had no real area of her own, not even a bedroom, and the Guest room wasn’t hers, either. This all made me think that the members of the Greenbriar family probably stuck to their own areas of the house very often, and didn’t tell each other much. There were a lot of Sam’s things scattered all over the house, come to think of it, which implies that perhaps she was really trying to reach out and talk to her parents?

Other Thoughts

This game really reminded me of an epistolary novel of sorts. As Katie, you learn about everything after the fact, by reading through multiple handwritten and typed letters from a large variety of people who are not even part of the Greenbriar family. I liked this kind of scavenger hunt/mystery, but it largely implies that the stories of these characters are far from over.

I must admit, I didn’t realize at first that Terrence and Jan had gone away right when Sam decided to run away with Lonnie, or that Katie was coming home during that same weekend. It was only once I looked at Katie’s boarding pass and paid attention to the date that it really all fit together. This indicates that in a few days the parents will return to find their older daughter home earlier than expected, and their younger daughter missing. Makes the whole “ending” seem a bit more realistic, as it doesn’t feel the need to tie up all the loose ends.

That’s all for now. Listen to the podcast above! Stayed tuned for the podcast, which will not only be full of more insights by people other than me, and will likely be pretty funny as well.

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