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31 Days of Horror: HOME

It’s where the heart is, it’s the place where we can realize what’s inside of us, it’s where we can confidently open up and allow our true selves to be exposed. There is no greater relief than returning to that place of familiarity and comfort.

Home is a pixel adventure horror game by Benjamin Rivers Inc. that plays on those pleasing feelings of returning to that place of comfort in a distressing way. Waking up in a dark room with a headache and a flashlight. Outside of the door is a body lying bloody on the ground. The protagonist is heavy with dismay and unfamiliarity in his surroundings. Something’s not right here. And we must make it home.

Pros

  • Heavy implications make you rethink choices
  • Intriguing “choose your own adventure” style narrative
  • Incredibly easy to play
  • Short and sweet
  • Replay for alternative choices and outcomes
  • Fun on consoles or handheld

Cons

  • Large implications that lead to small changes
  • All narrative. No action. It’s fine, but plodding.

Home offers a unique take on murder mystery and horror story telling that allows the player to write the story as it unfolds. Your only objective is to return home. Moving from set piece to set piece, only lingering when blocked by locked doors, the player must encounter clues as to how things got into such a state of disrepair. Clues that the protagonist doesn’t seem to want to interact with, occasionally forcing the player to wonder if picking up an item may have been a mistake.

The interactions with the environments throughout Home can uncover possibilities or ignore them all together – each path seeming to hold its own unique costs. Uncovering tools, weapons, letters, or pictures in order to further progress the story is a trope in most games. Home forces the player to wonder about the repercussions of each encounter. The character will address encounters with phrases like — “I don’t know why I..” or “I didn’t want to..”– in a way that could imply that he is explaining his actions to police or an accomplice after the events have unfolded. The clues pin you into a precarious position that toes a line of self-criminalization and forces you to rethink the — usually obvious — decision to pick up a weapon. The implications in Home will constantly make you wonder what was on the other side of the coin.

 

One of the few faults in Home plays hand in hand with one of the more pleasing aspects of the game. Repeat playthroughs allow player to interact with these choices multiple times, revealing the minor, even inconspicuous, changes they make. While the implications suggest that these choices have a drastic effect on the player, the changes in gameplay are typically unimaginable. The redeeming factor to this fault is that the ‘choose your own adventure’ nature of the game stays consistent until the very end. You’ll never truly know what happened, so even though the changes are tiny, they still come together to build your unique narrative. You can only know what your character chooses to believe.

Home presents all of the previously mentioned tone and suspense through the most minimal of game play mechanics, visuals, and sound design. There is no encumbering HUD or complex control scheme. The animation is reminiscent of old 16-bit pixel art and the sound offers only the most basic of atmospheric accompaniment. There is no complexity to any of these elements but rather a well-designed, minimalist series of environments and animations that are designed to carry the player through the narrative. Because of that, Home remains short and sweet, taking only an hour or two to reach completion and leaving the player to wonder about the potential of other choices and paths.

Home is a perfectly quaint compact experience that allows you to remake the narrative on each playthrough. Short and sweet, it’s nice from the couch but even more suitable for portable gaming. Playable on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, iOS devices, and Steam, it’s available no matter where you put in your time.

 

Cover image via

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Categories: Video Game Reviews

Author:Tommy Robbins

Lover of video games. Writer of blogs. Eater of pizzas. Writing about nerd junk at AnotherCastle and chasing the carrot down the rabbit hole of Video Games Journalism. It's dark in here.

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6 Comments on “31 Days of Horror: HOME”

  1. 10/09/2015 at 1:34 PM #

    I remember picking this up on PS3 a few years back, either as a PSN Plus freebie or during a flash sale, but I never got around to playing it. It might even be in my Steam library from a bundle or something. Based on the screenshots and your description, it reminds me a lot of another 2D pixely horror game called Claire. I guess it’s time to jump in lol.

  2. Tommy Robbins
    10/09/2015 at 2:59 PM #

    Bradley, I wasn’t familiar with Claire but will have to check that out. I found Home shortly after playing Lone Survivor. It’s also an awesome pixel-horror title I highly recommend. Another short and sweet adventure, much like this one.

  3. Tommy Robbins
    10/09/2015 at 3:02 PM #

    Reblogged this on GamerFuqs.

  4. 10/09/2015 at 6:17 PM #

    I picked up Lone Survivor the same day I picked up Home, so it must have been during a flash sale on PSN. Thanks for jogging my memory lol.

    Claire is a fun game. The map takes some getting used to, since it’s 2D, but it’s good stuff.

  5. 10/10/2015 at 10:19 AM #

    Sounds like a 2D stylized version of a point and click horror puzzle game crossed with Alan Wake.

  6. 10/25/2015 at 7:21 AM #

    Super cool

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