The Best Games Like Gone Home Worth Trying

The Best Games Like Gone Home Worth Trying

We live in a gaming era of many flavors for every palate out there. We get from the most iconic and classic Mario platformers from Nintendo to indie jewels like Celeste and Transistor. As we improve in processing and graphical power, genres evolve and change as well. We now have FPS and open-world RPG games that couldn’t even be dreamt before.

Videogames might be as simple as a collection of pixel art on screen or as complex as thousands of physical driven particles in a canvas. No matter how intricate or how basic a game is, it has a goal in mind since day one of its creation, and that is to immerse us in the vision that the developers had when they first conceived their project.

Immersion is a key element for enjoying a game, a game must be able to draw you back to it each and every time, else it will be a forgettable one. It might immerse you with its great mechanics, abundant lore, intricate crafting system, amazing narrative, great art design or simply because it hits the right tone for your personal taste.

Gone Home is a critically acclaimed title that many of us remember for being an extremely well-crafted feat of immersion. This title is surely one of the prime examples of a general that has been escalating in quality in recent years, walking simulators.

Walking simulators are focused on a strong narrative that is paced by the player, it solely focusses on exploration and unraveling the story elements by interacting with the environment or simply by walking and triggering events. Gone Home’s atmosphere is as immersive as it gets, and the story unfolds with no shortage of mystery that keeps you hooked till the end. Albeit short, but sweet.

Here we compile a list of must-play titles that you should try out if you’re into Gone Home, walking sims are your thing or you simply would like to try a new gaming experience (trust me, you won’t regret it!).

*All prices are considered at the time of writing and reflect the price of Steam’s Store, prices on all other platforms might vary.

1. What Remains of Edith Finch 

This Bafta Award Winner creation by developer Giant Sparrow is a genuine gem for the walking simulator genera. What Remains of Edith Finch is a recollection of stories as you explore the Finch mansion while playing as Edith herself. Why is she the last living member of her family? That question alone poses enough mystery to keep you playing nonstop.

The story in itself is a recreation of the sweet and not so pleasant moments of this family, in that sense its tremendously successful. What Remains of Edith Finch masterfully delivers each of those memories in a surreal, yet, so effective way. This title will have you enjoying and even laughing at some of those moments and crying in the next turn around the corner.

Giant Sparrow made a masterpiece that narrates moments worth living and that in some cases seem to feel and land very close to home. Even though the fantastic depictions of these memories might not be something for everyone, the overall atmosphere is relatable in most cases. This is a must-play title on our list.

2. The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable
This is one of those cases in which a friend asks: “What’s that game about?” and you have trouble answering without disclosing any details or you just can’t entirely put into words a description that makes justice for the title. Stanley Parable is more of an interactive experience that breaks the mold of what you expect in regards to a gaming experience.

It is a complete release based on a Source mod that was very famous among players on Steam. You play as Stanley, or, well… Stanley plays as you; in this walking simulator you have decisions to make but you don’t truly have decisions to make. All this paradoxical mumbo-jumbo is narrated step by step, like a GLaDOS in Portal type kind of narrator, bringing this madness to life.

This walking simulator will play you some real good pranks along the way. You’re guaranteed to get a good chuckle in some instances and feel somewhat fooled by the paradoxical yet hilarious narration style. We strongly recommend playing the demo available on Steam, so you can get a brief sense of what you’re getting into, all these words will make much more sense after you have experienced a bit of this mischievous game on your own.

3. Firewatch

firewatch

Firewatch, by developer Campo Santo, was an immediate success with critic’s scores when released. Its well-deserved scores are based on its atmospheric depiction of Wyoming wilderness. After some events in the life of Henry, the protagonist of this story, he decides to work as a fire lookout in the middle of a dry summer.

There, in the middle of nowhere, Henry’s only communication with another human happens through a small radio. His contact, Delilah, to whom he must report any incidents is always there chiming in with words of advice on how to do your job efficiently.

As you complete your duties and explore a series of strange situations popping in the area, these conversations turn on the personal side and each character gains depth. After a while, Firewatch starts to feel way less of a game and much more of an incredibly well-scripted animated film. 

On top of the stellar script and natural conversation between these two characters, the plot thickens as weirder events and signs of human sabotage close to Henry in what is supposed to be a rather isolated area start happening. Firewatch is narrative at its best and is worth every minute you play, it doesn’t last long, but it is worth the ride.

4. The Survey

the survey
This short experience developed by Robert Gammon is one of those games that are not featured in the front cover of the most prominent gaming sites or magazines, it’s the kind of game that a friend recommends because it is so underground and creepy it made him jump in fear a couple of times.

This short game is centered on the idea that whatever you do, as much as you try to burry it, it will eventually come and get you. The setting is a big house, a normal yet creepy and eerie, empty house. The last part is debatable since once you found a mysterious note next to your house phone, hell will break loose both in your mind and in this seemingly calm and desolated house.

All the bits and pieces to figure out what’s going on are revealed to you by puzzles, audiotapes, and some journal entries. Isolation and emptiness loom across every room in the house. All this while your past takes the form of an evil presence that little by little bring the past closer, so close that it terrifies.

5. Conarium

cornarium

Lovecraft can’t be absent in this list, and Conarium certainly is one of the entries that will make justice to the name as it gets its inspiration from the novel “At the Mountains of Madness”. As you wake up to be a witness of an experiment going terribly wrong, you take the role of Frank Gilman. Conarium, just like most Lovecraft inspired games or movies, has that permanent and unsettling sensation that something evil and wrong is happening.

The game takes place in an Antarctic base called Upuat (based on the name of an Egyptian god that represented the winter solstice). Isolation and atmospheric horror rarely have a better setting than a remote freezing corner of the world forgotten by civilization and this game proves that as a fact.

Frank will eventually question his own sanity and will discover how wrong and how evil this experiment turned out to be. The narrative takes a particular angle, in which the main character has lost sanity and part of him is now changed by an evil force, it’s hard to trust what is real and the line that divides fact from hallucination is constantly blurred.

6. Tacoma

tacoma

We couldn’t leave this one out! This is another great title created by the same studio that gave us Gone Home. Tacoma is a great departure from the story concept of Gone Home but has its roots of exploration and amazing storytelling intact.

The setting is out of this world, literally. This time around, Fullbright gets you aboard a futuristic spaceship in the year 2088. As usual, things have not gone particularly great and you are recreating piece by piece what transpired and what was of the crew.

This walking simulator depends heavily on exploration, as you will be able to practically relive the most important moments of the crew by the recording the ship has logged all this time. You can interact freely with these recordings, rewind them and reconstruct every single step at your will, letting you have a close look at moments that can get emotional and sometimes even scary.

The mechanics here are designed to get you closer and particularly personal with every detail of the gripping story. Tacoma won’t let you leave your sit until you’re done with its amazing story.

7. Call of Cthulhu 

Call of Cthulhu 

Focus Entertainment was not shy in the horror department when they idealized Call of Cthulhu. This game was inspired by the pen and paper RPG game by Chaosium that also shares the same name. We couldn’t end this list without mentioning one of the most recent Lovecraftian homages out there.

This game has everything you need to get you into full paranoid mode: a gloomy, isolated and sinister island setting, a murder mystery and a private investigator as the main character. In addition to that throw in some cultists, conspiracies and the classic Lovecraftian Old Gods and the horrors, these bring, and you have the recipe for a great game riddled with moments of anxiety and visceral psychological fear.

The narrative makes your sanity a slippery slope as Pierce, the main character, struggles to determine how far the rabbit hole goes in this murder investigation and what is real and possible anymore. The game utilizes every possible trope of the horror genera, from jump scares to subtle yet unnerving environmental discoveries.

Everything is creepy here, as it should in a Lovecraft masterpiece, from the NPC characters to the environment. Everything adds up to make this a spiral descend into madness, evil and darkness.

8. The Long Dark 

the long dark

When you think of the word “Apocalypse”, generally what comes to mind is a convoluted picture of disaster and despair. Rarely it the word “quiet” will fit on that thought and Hinterland Studio wanted to make sure that was no longer the case after you play their title, The Long Dark.

This episodic walking simulator has survivalist elements and a uniquely fitting art for its storytelling. You play as pilot Will McKenzie, traveling with Dr. Greenwood. After a geomagnetic disaster and a plane crash, it’s you against nature and a desperate search to find Dr. Greenwood.

The environment is eerie, yet you won’t truly find anything supernatural, what is unsettling is what nature itself has prepared for you. The cheer anxiousness of surviving through the snowy and quiet environment is enough to give you the creeps.

The Long Dark has so far released 2 chapters that have developed a great story and an alive and disconcerting setting in which survival is the focus. A third chapter is planned for next year and a “Redux” version of the first two chapters with improved animations is expected in December of this year.

9. Narcosis 

narcosis

If Bioshock has taught us something is that an underwater setting is just perfect for every kind of evil to find its home and for hell to break loose. Narcosis takes this same premise and goes deep into its own antics to deliver a spectacular sense of horror in every step you take inside your half-ton underwater dive suit.

This is literal immersion on a carefully designed and detailed ocean floor setting, and if you happen to have a VR headset you’ll be in for a treat as Narcosis supports both Oculus and HTC Headsets. The premise is simple, your oxygen (and sanity) is depleting rapidly as you struggle to return to the surface after an earthquake.

Nothing down there likes your presence and everything inhabiting this macabre depth will make sure they deliver the message. Knife on hand and flashlight on the other will be your tools to escape from the nightmare that Narcosis is. The narrative focus is heavy, as the game makes sure it delivers the horror with every camera shake and uncomfortable angle possible. A great adventure that will leave you satisfied with certainty.

10. Dear Esther

Dear Esther
Dear Esther started many years ago as a Source mod and it is considered one of the first walking simulators. The Chinese Room took it as a task to create an updated version of this mod and made some drastic graphical improvements and additions.

This can easily be defined as one of the purest walking simulator experiences as there is a complete trade-off for gameplay in exchange for total atmospheric immersion. Dear Esther can easily be described as an experience instead of an interaction. You start your walk through the island settings and a perfectly matching soundtrack plays along with narration that starts reading “Dear Esther…” and so your journey begins.

The audio is semi-randomized, which means that every playthrough will have its marked differences and possibly new discoveries about the island. Developers intend this to be a personal experience and a huge component of the title is for the player to be able to add their own perspective on what the island holds as its secrets.

The experience is ethereal and almost dreamlike, it is something unique that to date still feels fresh and it’s one game worth revisiting from time to time.

11. Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture

Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture

The Chinese Room were the masterminds behind this sandbox-style hunting walking simulator. The pure thought of everyone missing and an empty world is enough to get most people curious. What happened? What triggered this? What now? So many possible questions and just an empty world to serve as an answer.

There’s not much more than that here, some answers for a few of your questions, but a satisfying trip nonetheless. The world of Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture is beautiful and detailed, it depicts the remnants of what once was a thriving community that has experienced the rapture. Empty streets, daily items laying around as if everyone was simply erased out of existence and just the emptiness of a material world was left behind.

This feeling and eeriness of step by step following the last days of a town and its citizens is one you will rarely get in a gameand in this task walking simulators shine, this game being a top example. The experience provided by this title makes the word unique fall short to describe it.

12. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter 

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter 
In this title from The Astronauts, you take the role a detective that has some incline for the occult. The story revolves around a letter that your main character, detective Paul Prospero, receives from Ethan Carter himself. This letter would lead you to a place riddled with cryptic deaths, Red Creek Valley.

Once you arrive, you discover that everything is much worse than you have thought, and Ethan is completely gone, hence, the vanished part of the title. Red Creek Valley is an evil place with many murders that seem to be related, all of this also seems to lead into the occult.

The game’s mechanics, as most walking simulators, revolve around you being able to explore the environment in search of clues of what happened or to trigger some sort of event. Paul has the supernatural ability to communicate with the dead, and through this power, you can slowly piece together how these dark events tie together and revolve around Ethan’s vanishing.

Red Creek Valley is dark and sinister underneath a gorgeous and detailed landscape, graphics here are in no shortage of beautiful scenery, but they also evoke some sort of odd feeling that something isn’t right, which fits perfectly with the overall tone of the narrative.

It’s not completely a horror game, but it is as unsettling as reading an Edgar Allan Poe story with the lights off at 3 AM. I don’t believe this will spoil it for you, but just in case you’re very sensitive to spoilers, **SPOILER ALERT** There’s only one good jump scare, you’ll never see it coming and that it’s great.

All the games above represent the best in their genera and if you were into Gone Home, these will keep you busy for a while for sure. Walking simulators have been elevating the bar recently, utilizing every technical resource available to deliver pristine storytelling accompanied by outstanding animation and graphics.

There are so many debates about these experiences being games or not, as the gameplay trade-off for the narrative component is enormous in some instances. Whichever your side of the argument is, we can’t deny that most of these experiences are incredibly well made and blur the line between games and interactive art.

Since we are in the midst of the holiday season, I would recommend that you get some of the ones above during this time, since most are heavily discounted in every store (especially on Steam). These games are perfect for a cold holiday night, to share with friends and family as they can be enjoyed not only by the player, but they also entertain those observing and just enjoying the ride the story provides.

As you browse through the list you can notice that these games are not restricted to a single tone, they can evoke sadness, cheer you up, make you laugh or even scream in horror. There’s a lot of stories to be found and enjoyed in this particular type of game.

Gone Home was certainly a high note, and all these titles either followed or were precursors of its greatness. Many of them are even BAFTA winners and have major nominations on prestigious game awards across the globe. This proves the walking simulator genera is not only a great one but that it came to stay and reclaim its well-deserved spot as one of the most entertaining genera in gaming.

We will leave a helpful chart below, so you can easily choose on what platform you would like to play each of these titles. If you own multiple platforms, make sure you browse each store separately as sometimes you can find great discounts in one platform and full price on others.

Game

PC

PS4

Xbox One

Nintendo Switch

Price*

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Left of Edith Finch

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

$10.99

The Stanley Parable

Yes

No

No

No

$3.75

Firewatch

Yes

Yes

Yes

Coming Soon

$4.99

The Survey

Yes

No

No

No

$0.99

 

Conarium

 

Yes

Planned to Release

Planned to Release

No

$6.79

Tacoma

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

$5.99

 

Call of Cthulhu

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

$44.99

The Long Dark

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

$7.49

 

Narcosis

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

No

 

$6.79

 

Dear Esther

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

No

 

$9.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone’s Gone to The Rapture

 

Yes

Yes

No

No

$19.99

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

$2.99

*All prices in the chart are considered at the time of writing and reflect the price of Steam’s Store, prices on all other platforms might vary.

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