Gone Home review
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Gone Home review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on December 13th, 2018
Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: HOME AWAY FROM HOME
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If having a mobile version of Gone Home is the only thing that will get you to play this game, grab it. Otherwise, you might want to play it elsewhere.

Developer: Fullbright Company

Price: $4.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

Gone Home is a great game, and if you want to read what people think about the actual content of the game, you may want to look elsewhere. It took so long for Fullbright Company’s hit to make it to mobile, that rehashing the game’s unique premise, pacing, and narrative just feels kind of silly at this point. Instead, this review will examine how Gone Home is as an experience on mobile specifically, and the short version of that is that it’s mostly a good time, though playing it on mobile isn’t ideal.

Put the pieces together

The first and most noticeable thing about the mobile version of Gone Home that sticks out is that it doesn’t look as nice as its console and PC counterparts. Luckily, this isn’t a game that’s hugely dependent on graphical fidelity to tell its story. Nothing feels so muddy looking that you can’t figure out what you’re looking at, but it’s worth noting that this version of the game isn’t exactly a looker either.

The only time the mobile version of Gone Home’s looks can really affect your experience is that the game can seem quite dark at times. This probably has more to do with the fact that the nature of mobile games being… well, mobile, means you might be playing the game in bright environments if you’re out and about while playing, and that can make seeing what’s going on in Gone Home quite challenging. Although the game is meant to be dark, even turning as many lights on as possible in the game won’t completely alleviate darkness issues unless you’re playing this game in a reasonably dark area.

Fumbling through things

Gone Home isn’t a terribly complicated game to control, so playing it on a touch screen feels fine. It would have been nice if the game had some MFi controller support, but nothing in the game feels so demanding that the scheme of using the left side of the screen to move and the right side to look around ever feels too slow or unresponsive. After all, this is a game that’s mostly just about wandering an empty house and looking at inanimate objects.

I will say that there is a slight drawback to the touch controls, though. In using this clunkier style, you do feel less like a person inhabiting a space, which is pretty important to the experience of Gone Home. It’s definitely not a dealbreaker, but there were times when playing where I’d run into edges of open drawers unintentionally because my finger didn’t quite slide straight forward, and in doing so it was taken out of the moment ever so slightly in a way that I wouldn’t have been had I been using a different platform’s control scheme.

You can’t go home again

It may sound like I’m nitpicking, but I feel like that’s all that’s truly useful to say about a game that’s been widely celebrated and acclaimed for years finally making it’s way to normal. Is the game still great? Absolutely! Is it perfect? No. Is playing it on mobile satisfying? Yes. Is it the ideal way to play this game? No.

The answer to that last question is partially due to the reasons I listed above, but ultimately has more to do with an underlying problem with mobile games generally. Given the small screen size and “jump in, jump out” nature of a mobile device, game experiences on the platform just don’t feel as immersive as they do on platforms that are specifically designed for you to zone out in front of for hours. Given that Gone Home is meant to be an immersive experience, a bit of that is lost when playing the game on a mobile screen.

The bottom line

Gone Home is a great game, and five bucks is a great price for it, but know that if you buy it for mobile, you’re making a compromise. If making that compromise is what will get you to try this game at all, by all means, get it. I can’t stress enough that it’s a truly special game. That said, if you already own Gone Home elsewhere and you aren’t specifically looking for a way to play it on the go, then there’s no reason to pick up this mobile version.

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