Publisher: Benjamin Rivers
Genre: Horror, Adventure
Rating: M for Mature
The horror genre tends to depend on expecting the unexpected. This unfortunately causes a lot of games with similar stories or premises to come out around the same time and gives the illusion that there is nothing original coming out for the genre at all. However, once you find a horror game that does not play like the rest or rely on the same jump scares over and over again, it’s like a breath of fresh air to a staling genre. Home offers to be a unique experience. Let’s see if it lives up to that claim.
As a nameless protagonist, you find yourself in an unfamiliar house with no memory of how you got there. Armed with only a flashlight, you must find a way back home to your wife Rachel.
There is a considerable amount of blood and dead bodies in Home, but that’s it. There are no sexual themes or cursing, which is quite rare for a horror game. Home focuses more on telling a compelling story rather than filling it with unnecessary filler. There are a couple of jump scares, so if something like that gets to you, be on the lookout.
What makes Home a unique experience is the use of choice in the narrative. Every investigation is in past tense, as if the main character has no memory of what happened and you are deciding his path. You have the option to pick up certain items, but you can play the entire game without picking anything up at all. If you want to surpass everything and make it right to the end, you can. Home relies heavily on paranoia to help move the story along, and it does this well . Each clue is just subtle enough to keep you interested until the very end.
There are multiple locations in Home, but you will not spend a great amount of time in any of them. Each environment has a set of clues to help you uncover the mystery of why you started where you began. There are no puzzles to solve or riddles to decipher—just clues hidden in each location as to what happened to you and the location of your wife. Unfortunately, it will only take you about an hour and a half to complete the entire game. There are three endings, so if you are a completionist, it might take you a bit longer to grab all those trophies. Earning all three endings may add an extra hour or two to the gameplay.
Home has you exploring old, dilapidated buildings, creepy houses and an unnerving forest, each with clues as to who your character is and the fate of his wife. There are some optional collectibles to find, like the missing contents of your wallet and the combination to a safe in your home, but nothing that is too hard to locate.
As stated before, you decide the fate of the main character. Each choice made will add more to the story and will bring more of the mystery of what happened to your character to light. Still, I can’t get over the fact that Home is just too short. By the time I started to feel engaged in my character’s fate, the game ends. Even though the story wraps itself up in a neat little package, it could stand to be expanded maybe with some DLC or a new game plus option.
Home is a 2D side scrolling adventure with old school graphics. While Home may not have the scariest moments, the atmosphere is well worth the playthrough alone. Your flashlight makes a circle of light around your character, making the effect of light and shadow super effective for the mood. When you walk through a door, the perspective changes to first person, reminiscent of the loading screens from the first Resident Evil.
“Less is more” is the philosophy behind Home. With barely any music, Home relies quite heavily on the sound effects to carry the atmosphere, and it succeeds. With each echoing footstep in the hallways, or each crunch of leaves under your feet as you walk through the forest, Home gives the sense of being surrounded or even watched as you traverse through each location. You are instructed to turn off the lights and put on your headphones at the start of the game, and I can not recommend this enough. Being fully immersed in the atmosphere adds layers to the gaming experience.
Home tells an intriguing story with an intense atmosphere and a somber ending, but unfortunately, it is entirely too short. Home could have benefited from having some extra locations and clues to help move it along. Even though its short length seems to hinder it at points, Home is still worth the hour and a half to complete and tells a compelling story and is still a fascinating experience.
The Bottom Line