By all accounts Gone Home is an exceptional game.
(Whats below is Spoiler-Free. Read on)
While the central plot of the story focuses on a single character ‘Sam’, what a lot of people will miss is the second more intriguing story hidden within the main narrative of the game. If you have finished the game, read this post which describes that second story in detail.
Avoiding any spoilers, all I can say about it is that the second story answers a lot of questions and is a much different tone that the main plot. Discovering the second story definitely makes the game much more intriguing and changes your opinion of the entire game. I personally find the second story much more fascinating than the main plot.
Game Designer’s Dilemma
Now put your game designer hat on. Would you consider this 'hidden’ second story:
Good. Because if you play the game to its fullest and fully experience it, then you will be rewarded for your efforts. Essentially the people who care most about the characters (and thus the story) are the ones who will find out more about those characters.
Bad. Because most people will never find out about it and is wasted effort on the game designers’ part to craft portions of the game/story which is essentially nonexistent to most people. One could interpret this as incompetence on the game desginers’ part that they couldn’t create a game which guided the player so he would be forced to stumble upon and discover the second story.
Is the hidden story good game design or bad?