Seen in a positive light, the best walking simulator games like Gone Home are all about clever storytelling and rich atmosphere over complex game mechanics and twitch reflexes.
Released in 2013, Gone Home sees you play as Katie Greenbriar who has just returned home after a year abroad. However, the family house is eerily empty, vacant of life. You then spend the rest of the game discovering clues, investigating different parts of your home as you try to figure out what exactly happened. The biggest appeal of Gone Home lies with its well-crafted pacing as you slowly uncover an emotional story filled with plot twists.
Looking for other similar games? Well, you’re in luck! Here are a few walking simulator games like Gone Home worth looking into for their strong emphasis on character development and immersive worlds.
NOTE: For diversity, we have included games that explore various themes ranging from outright horror to the quirkily experimental. The unifying quality here is that they are all often referred to as ‘walking simulators’, in a positive sense.
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Our list of ‘walking simulator’ games like Gone Home
1. What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch tells the intriguing tale of the Finch family who apparently suffer from a dark curse. As with most games like Gone Home, the story here unfolds gradually, evoking curiosity as you explore their large abandoned residence. This indie release has received exceptional critical acclaim for its impressive style of storytelling (one of the best we’ve ever seen). We won’t spoil it for you, but rest assured this is one ‘walking simulator’ that will stay with you for its highly creative take on the subgenre. Not to be missed by any fans of Gone Home – and environmentally-rich games in general.
You play as Henry, a newly appointed forest fire lookout. A month into his job, strange things start happening as both Delilah – his supervisor – and him start to unearth the mystery of a past tragedy. Firewatch has been widely praised for its immersive story, environments, and well-actualised characters, all helping to push this ‘walking simulator’ into the arms of mainstream audiences. While reactions to the ending are divisive, the game’s overall exploratory experience is most definitely worth playing.
3. That Dragon, Cancer
Don’t be fooled by the game’s minimalist art-style. That Dragon, Cancer packs a heavy emotional punch as it tells a story of pain and loss due to terminal illness (inspired by the real-life death of the creators’ own son). Like most games similar to Gone Home, the gameplay mechanic here involves basic exploration, set to a heartstring-tugging plot and lovingly crafted levels. Much of the game’s rising popularity is owed to YouTubers like PewDiePie who have praised it for its touching premise.
4. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Similar to most games like Gone Home, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture fosters feelings of curiosity and uneasiness as you explore a mysteriously vacant English village, trying to piece together what has happened. The story is told via interacting with glowing orbs that reveal the backstory of past inhabitants. Reviews for the game are mixed. However, anyone specifically keen on the slow-burn environment-building aspects of ‘walking simulators’ will definitely want to give this release a try.
Created by the same folks who brought you Gone Home, Tacoma is set in an empty space station of the future. Using AR technology and an interesting rewind / forward mechanic, your main goal is to uncover what happened to the missing crew members, piecing together bits of data to slowly reveal their intricate relationships with each other. Overall, Tacoma has received generally favourable reviews, albeit less so than Gone Home.
By most standards, SOMA plays like a horror-themed walking simulator. However, the game does feature a fair amount of interactive gameplay in the form of light puzzles and escaping from monsters that can actually kill you. However, the main thing driving this game forwards is the surprisingly intricate plot that philosophically explores what it really means to be human. We recommend you go in blind to fully enjoy the twists and turns of this immersive narrative set within a Bioshock-esque underwater facility. A must-play!
7. The Music Machine
The follow-up to The Moon Silver, The Music Machine focuses on the relationship between 13-year-old Haley and her ghostly friend Quintin, who now assumes control of the girl in his attempt to try and kill her. Flaunting an abstract art-style, this atmospheric horror game offers non-linear storytelling with a casual dose of puzzle-solving. The Music Machine is short but offers an engaging experience that can be completed in one sitting,
8. Layers of Fear
This horror ‘walking simulator’ thrives on seamlessly morphing your environment around you to great psychological effect. The story revolves around you – a painter – who is slowly but surely going insane. Akin to most games like Gone Home, much of the plot is told through spoken dialogue and notes as you explore the twisting labyrinth of your house. Layers of Fear is packed with memorable, albeit somewhat stereotypical, horror imagery, with a plot that unfolds with incredible creative flair.
9. Ether One
Unlike most games like Gone Home, Ether One showcases fairly complex puzzles that pack quite a challenge. However, interestingly, the developers have given you the alternative option to choose a puzzle-free, exploratory path akin to more traditional ‘walking simulators’. The game’s plot examines the frailty of the human mind that sees you – a Restorer – work to retrieve the memories of Jean Thompson. What unfolds is an enticing narrative filled with many unexpected twists and turns. Ether One also features a great soundtrack that adds to the overall atmosphere.
10. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Widely touted as the best looking ‘walking simulator’ in terms of environmental detail, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter sees you assume the role of a paranormal investigator who tries to discover what happened to missing 12-year old Ethan Carter. The game is renowned for its use of photogrammetry that helps to create near-photorealistic forest textures. Similar to Ether One, there’s a fair amount of puzzle-solving which helps to progress the investigative story.
11. The Solus Project
In The Solus Project, you control an astronaut who has crash landed on an uncharted planet. Akin to many games like Gone Home, you’ll spend a lot of time exploring your environment, piecing together clues gathered from alien artefacts, notes, and more. In addition, the game includes a basic survival mechanic that challenges you to endure the planet’s harsh conditions. Dark corridors and creepy temples are among the many varied settings that help to build both mystery and tension. The Solus Project has received modest ratings from critics, although most Steam players have given it favorable reviews.
12. The Stanley Parable
There’s nothing quite like the 4th-wall breaking The Stanley Parable. In essence, this is a walking simulator game that philosophically questions what ‘freedom’ truly means. You’ll love the game’s quirkiness and abundance of Easter Eggs as you guide Stanley in his branching-path quest to escape his mundane existence – much to the annoyance of an omnipotent, unseen Narrator (voiced by the excellent Kevan Brighting).
Virginia isn’t as universally acclaimed as most other walking simulator games like Gone Home. However, fans of Twin Peaks will delight in the game’s intentionally surreal and abstract storytelling. The plot puts you in control of fresh FBI graduate Anne Tarver as she tries to solve a small-town murder. Expect lots of ambiguous imagery that can be both highly intriguing and confusing at once.
14. Dear Esther
Made by The Chinese Room, Dear Esther is often included among the pioneering games that helped to popularise modern-day walking simulators. Set on a remote island, this game hinges on introspection as you listen to your character read fragments of letters that slowly piece together his relations with Esther. The narrative organically merges with your environment, weaving an emotional tale that’ll stay with you long after the credits roll.
15. Among The Sleep
Among The Sleep’s horror premise is a unique one. Basically, you take control of a small toddler as he explores the large looming environments around him. Strange shadows lurk around every dark corner, creating an unsettling atmosphere from start to finish. The voice-acting in this game is also of a consistently high quality, further immersing you in the game’s narrative-driven experience.
Event plays similar to a lot of walking simulator games like Gone Home – but with an important twist. Alone on a space station, a lot of the gameplay involves interacting with the onboard AI known as Kaizen. What’s interesting is that you are free to type your own messages and questions through an in-game interface, to which Kaizen will respond in ways that help to further the plot. Granted, this open-ended puzzle-solving mechanic does have a few minor hitches. However, with over 2 million lines of programmed dialogue, Event is an ideal example that illustrates the immense storytelling potential of walking simulator games.
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