Saturday, November 2, 2019

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 125 - Gone Home

Gone Home is a bad and overrated game. Maybe, maybe I could concede that it was a fresh and interesting idea back in 2013, but it has been topped many times over in the years since by better walking sims and doesn't deserve the praise some people still lavish on it today. This one's probably going to get me in trouble, but here goes! Click to read more and watch gameplay.

I love walking simulators. I really do. Firewatch and Edith Finch and Journey and RiME and Abzu are some of my favorite games that I've played this generation. They combine great visuals with solid gameplay and excellent stories to form complete packages that are great, great games. 

The first walking sim that comes to mind for many, however, is Gone Home - a game that I think freaking sucks. Now, I didn't originally think it sucked. No, I reviewed it fairly positively back in 2016 when I first played it on Xbox One. But in the years since I've played a bunch of far, far better games that make Gone Home seem absolutely basic and boring and primitive in comparison. 

So why does Gone Home still get praise and is even included on "Best Games of the Decade" lists when a dozen other similar games have come out since then that are better? The answer is that Gone Home has become a purity test to see how "woke" someone is. Oh, if you're an ally and a good person and a forward thinking intelligent individual you can overlook Gone Home's bland graphics, boring house to explore, and lame overall plot because it has a side story about lesbian love. The game is basically criticism proof because, to some people, if you don't like it that just means you're anti-LGBTQ and a monster. No, I don't like it because it's a bad game that has aged terribly in the last 6 years.

This black and white, good and evil, 100% with us or you're against us, self righteous nonsense that has taken over discussion about everything on the Internet is a huge problem that is getting worse.

I've talked about "The Emperor's New Clothes" effect in video game discourse before. In other words, as long as a game uses certain themes or is "mature" in its storytelling some people are less likely to criticize it because they're afraid of not looking smart or woke or whatever. David Cage games, Sony's sad dad cinematic games, The Walking Dead, This War of Mine, etc. are seemingly immune to real criticism because they're serious and adult. Now, of course I'm not saying that using these themes or telling real serious stories in video games are a bad thing, that's ridiculous. What I'm saying is that you shouldn't be afraid to criticize them because of that. 

Just to be absolutely clear - this rant is not about the story or specific themes of Gone Home. I'm very, very, very "blue" in my political leanings. I just don't like using it as a shield to deflect criticism of stuff that is otherwise mediocre trash. A crap game is a crap game regardless of the themes of its story or how serious and mature and cinematic it is. Gone Home is a crap game.