Developed and Published by Benjamin Rivers
Played on: PS Vita and PSTV
Also Available on: PS4, Microsoft Windows, Linux, MAC OS, and IOS
You awake in a dark basement of an unfamiliar mansion with your leg in throbbing pain and your memory clouded. You find a flashlight at your feet, yet can’t seem to find your wallet or any other personal belongings. As you wander the mysterious mansion looking for clues as to how you got there, you start to notice some peculiarities. Blood covered knives, a loaded gun on the ground, newspaper clippings of town murders frantically plastered onto the walls. Our nameless protagonist may not have a clue as to what is going on. He doesn’t seem to remember his own name. But he knows that there is one thing that must be done: he has to find his way home.
Home: A Unique Horror Adventure is a short 2.5D horror game about the mysteries surrounding the nameless protagonist we control. Like Lone Survivor and Claire, the game recommends wearing headphones and turning off trophy notifications while playing in a dark room. And much like North, the game only takes about one to one and a half hours to complete, with the added benefit of a menu and checkpoint system.
The overall goal of the game is getting the protagonist back home to his loving wife, while passing through various locations along the way, such as a forest, general store, and sewage maintenance plant. The player is meant to examine these areas, investigating every room and object to piece together what happened to them the previous night. This is the game’s only real mechanic other than walking around, but it manages to hold the player’s attention and carry the experience since the game is only about an hour long. Each item the player finds will have some significance, making exploration feel important and necessary.
There was even one time early in the game when I didn’t spend much time exploring the previous area. So when I went to the next locale, my character scolded me, wishing that I, or in the game’s sense he, had spent more time looking around.
Come the game’s finale, there are three different endings. The player will have to examine the items they have picked up throughout the journey and use the information given by these items to determine what the truth is. The three endings are diverse, each one feeling very different from the other. And since I could clearly tell that the number and type of items I had picked up affected the ending I got, it adds a lot of replay value.
So in terms of an adventure I’d say that Home lives up to that title. There’s a lot of replay value, diverse environments, and mystery to keep the player going. But if we read the entire subtitle, we see the word horror. And Home does not live up to that.
As I said before the game is about exploration more than anything else. And this means that there are no monsters or anything else that can kill the player. So how does Home live up to it’s title? To start, the environments are sufficiently creepy. The pixel art is dark and eerie, really giving a sense of danger even though there isn’t any. And the sound design is surprising good considering the developer used a lot of assets from FreeSounds.org.
These spooky and unexpected noises did give me a jump at times when playing. But only because I was wearing headphones and in a dark room. But other than this, the game isn’t that scary. The premise and atmosphere can be considered uncanny and strange but that doesn’t make it a horror game. There is nothing to run from or fear. And as far as I can tell there is no way to die. So while the game on a first playthrough may seem scary, it doesn’t hold up as much on future playthroughs.
And something that I personally found annoying was the puzzle system. Many famous survival horror games have difficult puzzles that must be solved in order to progress, with many optional puzzles for the player to complete to get extra supplies and so on. But in Home, there are only two puzzles, both of which can be completed by just clicking the X button on a green light flashes, and one optional puzzle that involves finding a code. It’s not like the game needs to have a lot of puzzles but having one or two good ones would have been nice.
In conclusion, Home: A Unique Horror Adventure, is a short but interesting game to play. The game was a lot of fun for me, even giving me the occasional jump with it’s well-placed sound effects. I loved exploring the various locations and trying to find everything that I could to piece together what happened to me. But while the setting and sound design was eerie, the game lacks anything that could scare me on a future playthrough with it being devoid of monsters or any other type of enemy. But at a mere five dollars, the game is definitely worth your time and money, and will give you at least some satisfaction no matter what type of games you’re into.
I am giving Home: A Unique Horror Adventure a 7 out of 10
Great premise and atmosphere for this type of game
Demands the player to explore their surroundings
Lots of replay value with different endings
Nothing to scare you after first playthrough
Puzzles are too easy
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