I recently took a tour of the original "walking simulator", Gone Home. The game, originally released for Steam in August 2013, didn't arrive on consoles until January 2016, and only after reports that such ports had been cancelled. It was the PlayStation 4 version that I finally picked up, based on the multiple awards, including Polygon's "Game of the Year".
Despite that acclaim, Gone Home has often been derided as not being a game, since it focuses on spoken monologues and has no combat. The player is essentially railroaded from the beginning of the interactive story to the end, with only a few optional side quests and puzzles that aren't particularly challenging.
I marvel at gamers who believe journalists were the only ones to like Gone Home. pic.twitter.com/DKbmOvnVQk
— Ken Gagne (@gamebits) October 7, 2016
But I enjoyed Gone Home, for much the same reason I thought the narrative was the best part of Life Is Strange. I still enjoy platformers, RPGs, and shmups, but I also want to see the medium evolve beyond the same genres I've been enjoying since the 1970s. Gone Home is such an evolution, offering artists a new way to tell a story that engages the player.
That said, I played through Gone Home in one sitting and am unlikely to revisit it. Given the silent protagonist, it didn't stick with me like Firewatch did. But as a milestone in interactive narrative, Gone Home is a landmark and an enjoyable few hours for the patient gamer.