Games that are free are always worth a bash, even if they’re crap and you never intend on playing them again. Games that are cheap are also worth a bash, however as you fire up the game you can’t help but hope that you haven’t thrown your cash down the toilet. This is how I felt when I purchased ‘home’ for £2 from the Playstation store, a game which could have been a bloody bargain, or an absolute stinker, and for a horror game too, how scared can I really get for 2 quid? Being 50p cheaper than a bus ride to town, this is by far the best adventure I’ve had with a £2 coin.
‘home: a unique horror adventure by Benjamin Rivers’ is exactly what it says in the title. Set in a pixelated world, home is a murder mystery with a twist, you decide what happens. The premise of the game is simple; you are awoken by a storm in a house that isn’t yours. You stumble upon a dead body in the hallway, a man you’ve never met in a building you don’t recognise or remember arriving at. It’s up to you, the player, to walk around the house, to look for clues as to what has happened and to get home to your wife. What makes home a ‘unique horror adventure’ is how the game toys with you and changes depending on the choices you make, which ultimately decides the game’s outcome. As you play, the world around you subtly changes and the perspective shifts to match your current experience and what you discover is entirely subjective; are you innocent or are you guilty? As you begin your adventure you’re asked to see it through to the end in a single 90 minute run, which I did, 3 times before calling it a night.
As you’ll see when you start the game, home is very simple in its presentation and you won’t find any flashy graphics, cut scenes or an infamous EA solar flare anywhere, it’s a wonderfully detailed pixelated world that you’ve been thrown into. The story is told through on screen narration by the lead character, interacting with everything you see will open up more dialogue boxes that will expand on the story and unfold the mystery at hand. Very early on in the game you stumble upon a gun on the ground and thus begins the real objective of the game, do you pick it up or leave it be? The question is always proposed to you in an act of reflection “I didn’t pick this up did I?”, “Did I pull this switch?” and the most morally challenging “Did I give them a proper burial?”. It’s this way of storytelling that truly back up the game’s intentions, that it’s all how you interpret the events and how you want the story to be told. The difficulty of this game comes from exploring your environment properly and finding every clue or item that you can, missing anything won’t penalise you as such, however you yourself will be left without a deeper understanding of the game and arguably a less interesting play experience. With the game being beatable in 90 minutes you have the chance to replay it more than once, and in doing so you’ll find things you may have missed but most importantly you can make different choices to the ones you made the first, maybe second time round. These decisions will subsequently affect the game’s outcome and you could find yourself playing an entirely different game and viewing the events in an entirely different light, that’s what make home such a unique adventure.
Despite having the title of ‘a unique horror adventure’, home is more of a creepy murder mystery than a ‘cack-ya-pants’ scare fest, which by no means is a bad thing however players who have come into it looking for jump scares and scary music may feel a little deflated. Saying that, home is a very scary game in its own way, the lack of any music and the well timed loud sound effects will make you wearier of your surroundings, mix it with the genuine sense of feeling lost and confused whilst trying to comprehend the narrative, I could feel my heart pounding and my brow beginning to sweat. Horror titles that rely too heavily in making the player jump can often miss the mark when it comes to the narrative; however Benjamin Rivers has turned the genre on its head by creating a game that focuses solely on the story so much that the scares come from what the player discovers.
‘home: a unique horror adventure’ is without a doubt one of the most intriguing and unsettling games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. It throws you directly in at the deep end and asks you to swim back with nothing to aid you with the weight world on your shoulders. With multiple endings available to its players, you’ll find yourself playing through the game numerous times just to see how differently you can tell the story based on the decisions you make. Though simple to initially look at, home is a gorgeous game that will subtly creep you out and make you squirm without the need for flashy visuals or a Hollywood soundtrack. I would have loved to have seen in some cases a more dramatic turn of events or a more obvious difference in the narrative when making major choices, however I’m really splitting hairs to find something negative about this game as its perfect the way it is. They say home is where the heart is, and it’s crystal clear that this is where Benjamin Rivers’ is, you’ve really created something special.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.