Game Reviews - Gone Home and Papers, Please

I recently had the opportunity to do a bit of traveling, which afforded me the time to play through a couple of Steam games I hadn't gotten around to yet. Gone_Home

 

Gone Home is a well-crafted story-based game where all you do as the player is wander around an empty house. You never encounter another person. There is no violence. The game is all about finding clues about what is going on and piecing the story together yourself. You are a college-age girl, who has come home after spending a year abroad in Europe. You come home to an empty house - your parents are missing as is your younger sister. Your family had moved into this house while you were away, so you are unfamiliar with the house. The main story focuses on your younger sister, but there are stories about your dead great-uncle (who left the house to your father), your father and your mother as well. All of the stories are excellent - the main story is compelling and will keep you engaged throughout the gameplay. The side-stories aren't critical to completion of the main story and one of them is quite subtle; I found it worthwhile to take the time to find all of the stories available in the game.. The entire gameplay took me about 4 hours to complete.  I don't want to ruin anything about this game - but if this sort of game appeals to you I highly recommend it.

Papers_please

 

Papers, Please is a game called a "dystopian document thriller". I admit, I'd never run into a game quite like this one before. The music is fantastic and the graphics are crude but support the overall sense of Soviet-era repression and scarcity of resources. You are a border inspector and it is your job each day to review the papers (passports, passes, work permits, etc.) of people requesting entry to your country. You approve or deny their request. Sounds simple, doesn't it? With each passing day, the amount of things you have to remember to check on various documents increases. You are paid by the person that you review, so the slower your review goes, the less you get paid. You have a family at home for whom you have to pay rent, food, medicine, etc. I enjoyed playing this game a couple of times. The first time I didn't make enough money, my family got sick, and I messed up so much I was thrown in prison. The second time I got through about 15 days of story and discovered the game was starting to feel more like work than like a game. You have to keep track of a LOT of minutiae related to the documents.  I appreciate the story, and how awful a bleak, repetitive job like that would be -- the game does a great job conveying that. I didn't find the game particularly fun.