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A House in California

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4.7/5 (175 votes)

Jake Elliott's surreal interactive art adventure is a slow, thoughtful game where you play as four different women who attempt to comfort a small boy who can't sleep. The stories they tell take you back into their memories to solve some rather unusual problems with rather unusual methods. Part dreamlike narrative, part abstract puzzle solving, it's a charming bit of storytelling that's just the thing to unwind with.

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I'm still in the first chapter, but... wow! I played "The Manhole" when I was younger! Never did get anywhere in it though...


Got the flies from the dome, the jar, and near the lamp post. Can't fix the lamp! What am I missing?


Never mind, got it!


Hooray! Jake's stuff is fantastic. A House in California has the same feeling as reading good poetry. I really liked it.

Congrats on the writeup, Jake!

littlefish December 30, 2010 2:18 PM

Hey, this is actually GREAT! In a slow, soft and friendly (but somewhat confusing) way.


Hmm... definitely having trouble with the birds... I swear I've tried every combination, but clearly I'm missing something.

I've gotten the birds from the house on the hill with the peanut butter, but can't find how to go anywhere except for on the street, the clouds, and the house on the hill.


I hate to admit this, but I need some help with an analysis... I seem not to be able to interpret this one yet.

To help, here's a walkthrough:

Please note: This is a simple and barebones guide for this 'game'. It does NOT go into the interpretation. I suggest you strongly to do things that is not written below, as I strongly suspect that the script from these discoveries will influence your interpretation.


Chapter 1: Lois

A boy said, "Grandma, the house is too dark! I can't sleep."
Lois said, "The lamp has just gone out."
"Once, we searched for fireflies and caught them in jars."
"The fireflies will light the street lamp now."


1. Catch the loose fireflies on the right (A House in California)
2. Remember the Moon (A House -> The surface of the Moon)
3. Remember the small fountain (The moon -> A fountain in a back yard)
4. Play with the table, then catch the loose fireflies (A fountain)
5. Remember the window (A fountain -> A Computer in a Guest Room)
6. Play with the floppy disk, then Learn about the kicking machine by clicking on the computer screen. (A computer)
7. Play with the strange painting, then play with the boy on the computer screen, then catch the loose fireflies. (A computer)
8. Forget the computer screen, then forget the fountain. (A computer -> A fountain -> The moon)
9. Repair the broken kicking machine (the device near the dome) then catch the loose fireflies. (The moon)
10. Forget the stars, then light the lamp. (The moon -> the house)

Chapter 2: Beulah

A boy said, "Grandma, the house is too quiet. I'm scared."
Beulah said, "The birds have just gone to sleep.
"Once, we fed the birds and sang along with them."
"Let's think of some snacks that birds like to eat."


1. Cook the billboard then befriend the 3 birds. (The house)
2. Write about the clouds. (The house -> Up On a Cloud)
3. Cook the recipe on the airplane with a banner, then befriend the 3 birds. (The cloud)
4. Write about the house on the hill. (The cloud -> A House at the Top of a Hill)
5. Read the cook book [this is the white book at the bottom], befriend the boy who likes peanut butter, cook the jar of empty peanut butter, then befriend the 3 birds. (House on the hill)
6. Read the book about clouds [top book], then read the cloud [on the right], then sing with any of the birds. (House on the hill -> The cloud -> The House)

Chapter 3: Connie

A boy said, "Grandma, the house is too gray. I'm bored."
Connie said, "The butterflies are just distracted"
"Once, we watched the butterflies and listened to them mumble."
"When their daydreams are over they'll color the house."


1. Watch the TV. (The house -> A TV Show About a Cathedral)
2. Watch the cross, then listen to the cross. (Cathedral -> The house)
3. Save the orange butterfly, then watch the TV. (The house -> Cathedral)
4. Watch the car, then listen to the cathedral. (Cathedral -> The house)
5. Free the green butterfly, then watch the TV. (The house -> Cathedral)
6. Watch the sleepy boy, then listen to the cathedral. (Cathedral -> The house)
7. Rest with the blue butterfly. (The house)

Chapter 4: Ann

A boy said, "Grandma, I'm not sleepy now."
Ann said, "You're just paying too much attention."
"Once, we sat still, closed our eyes, and listened to our breath."


1. Remember the lamps, then forget the lamps.
2. Read any bird, then write any bird.
3. Watch any butterfly, then listen to any butterfly.
4. Finally, enter the house.

Before the game ends, you will see the boy that has been there for the 3 chapters...


Am I the only one who can't get it to load?

RockAngel1991 December 30, 2010 7:16 PM

Little Ghost, I can't get it to load either

Carny Asada December 30, 2010 9:44 PM

Should I be worried that whenever Dora describes a game as making no sense, I am able to finish it without looking at clues? No, seriously, the combinations felt pretty intuitive to me.

However: We do not have cardinals in California. Should have been a scrub jay.


"The Apple II? It's much to fast to catch."



unique game ending kinda confusing

Anonymous January 5, 2011 11:24 PM

That little guy does befriend some strange things...


Fireflies (at least the bioluminescent kind) are almost nonexistent in California, for that matter.

Although I did really like this one. I felt it made a lot of sense. Remembering and forgetting mostly moves you around but the custom "other" information, plus the detailed "learn" actions makes it a treat.


God... I'm stuck at the fireflies! I caught them, and... nothing! I don't know what to do!
I guess I need a "A House in California for Dummies"...

Frootloop96 March 5, 2011 1:56 AM

It was...nostalgic. I liked it. For some reason, I found it touching.


I thought I'm stuck in the game..but oh no, I left a bird on te ground! Lol!


This is incredibly gorgeous. Some of the writing just took my breath away with it and never gave it back. Ever.

I loved the fireflies. And the simplicity of the art. This is the most beautiful thing I've seen in a while.


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