Gone Home Is Still a Must Play Walking Simulator, but Maybe Not on Nintendo Switch
Gone Home's foray onto Nintendo Switch is not the definitive version, but is still a great entry point into one of the best first-person experiences.
The Fullbright Company truly made a name for itself with the release of Gone Home in 2013. The title, one that would inspire countless first-person experience (or “walking simulator”) games, hit at a rare point of the industry. Both genre-bending and offering a unique setting that hit close to home for the average PC gamer, it is no wonder that the game became a multi-console success. And while Gone Home is still an important game in 2018, playing it on Nintendo Switch isn’t going to be your best experience with it.
In case you haven’t been reading DualShockers for half a decade, our Ryan Meitzler reviewed the game when it first released on PC and Mac. Awarding the title a 9.0 out of 10, Ryan had nothing but good things to say about the game:
Gone Home stands in stark contrast to many current games for its striking simplicity in design and gameplay, but succeeds immensely for its emotionally-involving narrative and deep emotional pull.
For the record, I don’t disagree with any of this–there is magic within the bones of the house, as well as the story that is the foundation of the game. While some other first-person experience titles like What Remains of Edith Finch can capture that charm, most of the cluttered genre fails to capture what makes Gone Home so unique.
But despite being an important game, the title’s port to Nintendo Switch felt overall lacking. Sure, every feature of the title is still available — if you want to play with commentary from Steve Gaynor, that is still very much an option. And played as a handheld title, the game’s control scheme is still fine.
However, the current iteration of the game is held back by some technical issues. My first experience booting up the game was accompanied by a black screen that essentially bricked my Switch until could perform a hard reset. After uninstalling and reinstalling the game again, I was able to get past the title screen. Unfortunately, it remained a persistent problem that I had to deal with twice (generally after putting the Switch to Sleep in-game) within my two-hour playtime.
Somehow, playing the game on a handheld screen makes Gone Home feel less remarkable. I’m not sure if exploring the dark, vacant hallways seem less immersive when confined to mere inches, but it was harder for me to get lost in the story and the setting than on my previous playthroughs on PC and PlayStation 4. Moving the game to docked mode certainly helps that, but it is clear that the Nintendo Switch version has lower performance to accommodate for the Switch’s graphical limitations.
How does this work? While running through the game and walking around rooms, you may not notice it. However, stopping to smell the roses–or in this instance, play cassette tapes and read hand-drawn magazines–you will uncover graphic imperfections. This can range from shotty textures to instances where textures are missing entirely:
Given that the player is so often stopping and examining the house and items in it, it’s a concern that shouldn’t be taken lightly if you are looking to remain fully immersed in the game.
When games are ported from console to console, especially after a multi-year gap, we are regularly in a position that we can say it is the definitive version of the game. Worth noting, this is something that we frequently say about Nintendo Switch versions of games as well. However, the opposite is true for Gone Home–while the performance is servicable, the port itself makes compromises and may actively feel worse in handheld mode. Grabbing the game to play on PC, PS4, or Xbox One will likely be the better call overall.
But do make sure you get around to playing it, if only to see what the commotion is about.