Come Back…

First of all, I just want to praise Dear Esther for its beautiful art. The caves and the glow that came off of the walls was absolutely stunning. And while we’re on the topic of art, I want to comment on the narration itself. The way things were phrased and the metaphors used really made the narration lyrical, soothing, and somewhat confusing, because the language used reminded me of old movies that take place in Britain.

Basing off of the gameplay itself, it was very uneventful. You’re thrown onto this weird, dark island with abandoned ships, with nothing but your feet and a random flashlight. There’s no map, no inventory, just your typical WASD controls (but no jump???) and a right click that temporarily zooms in on things (I never used it). Compared to Gone HomeDear Esther had more freedom with the space of the land. You could basically go anywhere, casually walk off cliffs, swim out into the sea, and jump into random holes (I soon was counting the number of times I could kill myself, always coming back because of the soothing words “Come back”). For me, Gone Home had a more relate-able, compelling story line while Dear Esther was more pleasing to the eye. I’d rather pick things up and scrutinize over them than wander around an island, holding the W key the entire time.

What is that even a picture of???

Why my favicon is a picture of what it is.

When opened on a tab on Google Chrome, it’s hard to see what my favicon is a picture of. Upon further speculation, however, it might just confuse the viewer even more. What do a rainbow, a giraffe with a monocle and mustache, and a stupid pun on the word “imagination” with my name, Emma, even mean? Truthfully, there is no deeper meaning behind it other than my liking towards giraffes and classy accessories, and that I wanted to creatively include my name, hence “Emmagination,” a phrase I put on the back of one of my hoodies. I thought back to my cable-less days when I had no clue what Spongebob Squarepants was, and seeing everyone separating their hands in an arc (which made a rainbow) while saying imagination, which gave rise the the rainbow in the background. The glittery effects were to just add some pizzazz and texture. I figured it’d be pretty hard to find what I was looking for online, so I drew the image myself.

Gone Home Reflection

Returning home after a year around Europe, only to find…?

When Kaitlin Greenbriar comes home after traveling for a year in Europe, she is greeted with a massive thunderstorm, an empty house, and a note from “Sam” taped on the front door. The player beings playing knowing little about Katie herself, other than the information printed on her passport. Further investigation (aka snooping through personal files, newspaper clippings, cassette tapes, secret passages, etc) gives more insight on who she is– a track star, a check-plus student, and a trouble-free daughter– as well as more knowledge on her family members.

As an interactive game, Gone Home does an excellent job of relaying information to the player. Through various letters from publishers, the player, along with Kaitlin, learns that Terry Greenbriar, Kaitlin’s father, is a well-known writer who wrote about the JFK assassination. And through meticulous speculation, the player can find Terry’s secret man stash. But it turns out that everyone in this family has something to hide. Letters from her roommate way back when show how Kaitlin’s mother, Janice, might be in a relationship with someone named “Rich.” Kaitlin’s younger sister, Samantha, however, holds the biggest secret.

The main mechanism used to introduce Samantha is a voice narration of her diary addressed to Kaitlin which establishes a strong sense of character for Sam, even though we never meet her in person. Other clues around the house affirm type of person she is: an imaginative writer, a sassy teenager, a rebel. Perhaps the most profound part of the play-through was discovering the relationship between Lonnie and Sam. Never once did Sam explicitly mention being a lesbian, but her actions and the clues she left behind (the notes they scribbled together, Lonnie’s recordings, the leftovers of their secret ghost hunts) all point to her feelings for Lonnie. A small, but prominent detail is the heart-shaped necklaces Lonnie and Sam bought. It first appeared as a scrap of paper in the basement, but developed into a picture of the two of them holding their necklaces, to the end credits with the pieces of their necklaces connected to each other. Although one may not expect much from a first person narrative game, Gone Home develops an unpredictable story that warms the heart of the player.


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