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(Credit: Courtesy of Annapurna Interactive)

For some, going home for the holidays is a much-anticipated event. For others, it's a trip filled with dread. How would you feel, though, if you returned home only to find that your family's disappeared without explanation? That's for you to uncover inside Gone Home, The Fullbright Company and Annapurna Interactive's critically acclaimed game.

First released on desktop (Mac, Windows) in 2013 and later for consoles, Gone Home was made available for Nintendo Switch in September and has finally come to iOS this week for a $4.99 purchase price.

Press Start to step inside the first-person adventure exploration game. It's June of 1995, the same year Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City, Michael Jordan returned to the NBA, and OJ Simpson was found innocent of two counts of murder.

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You come into the story seeing a couple of bags on the porch that you'll swipe to move closer to, crouch to lower yourself to, and use the magnifying glass to get right up onto. It's in your best interest to tap the Items button to see the bags' contents blown up. [These are actions you'll continue to use once you enter the house and throughout your exploration to make sense of your family's disappearance.]

The first items you'll examine more critically are a passport and airplane ticket. They tell you that you're 21-year-old Kaitlin Greenbriar, just back to your small town outside Portland after a European trip. In other words, the bags are yours.

A note on the door, addressed to you, tells you that your family members are gone and would rather you not dig around to discover their whereabouts. But you're an adult now and not one to do as you're told, are you?

It's just too tempting to play detective and nose around the house, opening every door and exploring every little item to uncover what happened to the people who lived there in this engrossing game.

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But your journey won't be straightforward. Thankfully, the developers included an easy-to-follow basic controls diagram with great explainers at the start of the game to get you going. There are also a slew of customizations and modifications you can make to the controls as well as to how things appear or sound within the game or even whether things like your reticule (small handbag) or the interaction text remain visible.

For those who prefer the added challenge, you can choose to start the game without the house's lights on and without the ability to access the house's map. Either way, you can definitely lose yourself in this smart and captivating game that'll be a welcome distraction over the holidays. Because even if you enjoy spending time with your family, there's still such a thing as too much family time.

Takeaways

  • First released to desktop in 2013 and later consoles, Gone Home moved to Nintendo Switch in September and has finally come to iOS this week for a $4.99 purchase price.
  • Gone Home is a first-person adventure exploration game, where it's up to you to uncover where your family has gone off to and why.

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Joshua is an editor for CNET's Download.com. He covers the mobile tech and apps that power our lives and interviews celebrities about their favorite apps. Previously, he worked as an editor at Healthline and Gay.com and as a contributing writer for Mac Directory, MacAddict, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, and SF Chronicle.