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    jp's Gone Home (PS4)

    [September 30, 2016 09:32:15 AM]
    Once again late to the party. On the other hand it's nice to play something once all the hype has died down. As expected, it didn't take me long to finish and I've since been back to pick up a few trophies and listen to the developer commentary.

    I don't really understand all the hype and accolades to be honest. I enjoyed the experience, feel it was well executed, but it would be a real stretch to say that I was "blown away". Maybe it's because I knew about the nature of the missing sister's relationship? Hmmm...

    The highlight of the experience for me was a UI issue rather than the game itself. I'm also glad that it was brought up in the developer commentary as well, because I think it's a real (small, but still significant) innovation (or, to be fair, innovation to me).

    As an exploration game, you can wander around and pick up things to examine them all the time. It's part of what makes the game interesting - being curious about the items in the game. However, most games make it really easy to make a mess - once you've picked something up it's tricky to put it back exactly where it was. More often than not you end up dropping or throwing stuff. The end result is that rather than examining a place you end up acting like a crazy looter leaving a mess as you move from room to room. In a post-apocalyptic setting this doesn't really bother me (hey, I'm scavenging), but in a game like this one - where you're playing someone who's returning home - the idea that you'd leave everything upturned and askew jars too much. So, the solution? Whenever you pick up an object there's a "return" option that lets you put it back where it was in exactly the same position! Genius!

    The developer commentary in fact describes how they realized they needed to implement this because playtesters reported feeling bad about trashing the house...

    More broadly I think the feature reflects a real interest in subtly reinforcing (or at least not acting against) the narrative situation and role-playing the player is put in: you're returning to your parents home, this is a new place for you, but people you care about live here.

    There's another moment in the game that also reflects this care. At one point you find a crumpled note in a dustbin. When you examine it, after a few seconds the player is interrupted by the character you're playing who basically closes the note up and refuses to read it - too much of an invasion of her sister's privacy. It's a small touch, but a nice reminder and nudge to the player that they're home and that the character they're playing might not really want to go along with some things. It works surprisingly well without feeling too jarring - perhaps because it's only done once.
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    Status

    jp's Gone Home (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Wednesday 21 September, 2016

    GameLog closed on: Friday 30 September, 2016

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    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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